Thousands of working adults will be able to benefit from free courses to help them upskill or retrain, as part of the Government’s address skills gaps and improve access to high-quality training alternatives.
The Government’s network of Institutes of Technology collaborations between leading employers, further education colleges and universities. They specialise in delivering high-quality Higher Technical Education and training in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, such as digital, advanced manufacturing and engineering, providing employers with the skilled workforce they need.
Sixty-five short and modular courses will be available from the start of this month in 10 Institutes of Technology (IoTs) across England in sought-after STEM subjects. This will include courses such as Artificial Intelligence, Digitisation of Manufacturing, Digital Construction, Agricultural Robotics, and Cyber Security.
The programmes will be available to working adults aged 19 and over, with priority given to those employed locally to the IoT, in related industries such as digital or healthcare. The courses will be a blend of classroom and remote online study and will vary in length from 50 to 138 hours. This will give greater flexibility in how and when adults can learn, so they can fit it around their lives. Swindon and Wiltshire IoT, for instance, will offer five short 50 hour courses across eight weeks.
A total of £6.4 million is being invested to support IoTs to offer the free courses, which will support up to 4,000 working adults to retrain and address local skills shortages.
The Black Country and Marches Institute of Technology will be running courses for the medical technology and engineering sectors, including one on Anaesthetic and Operating Theatre Equipment. This will enable someone already working in medical engineering to gain new skills in using, calibrating and maintaining anaesthetic and operating theatre equipment.
Separately, over 100 further and higher education providers have been awarded a share of £18 million to invest in new equipment. Including, virtual reality goggles, therapeutic play equipment for children and air quality testing equipment. The funding also aims to boost funding links with local businesses in key sectors such as digital, construction and healthcare.
Boosting the uptake and quality of Higher Technical Qualifications is a key part of the G landmark reforms to post-16 education and training. A major review of higher technical education revealed these qualifications can unlock the skills employers need and lead to well-paid jobs. However, it also shows that the quality of qualifications on offer at further and higher education providers can be variable and it can be hard for students and employers to find the ones that are right for them.
From September 2022, the Government will start rolling out newly approved Higher Technical Qualifications, beginning with Digital, and followed by Construction and Health in 2023. A full suite of qualifications will be available by 2025. Higher Technical Qualifications will provide a natural progression route for both young people taking T Levels or A levels, and adults looking to upskill or retrain.