The Secretary of State for Education has today approved a bid led by Dudley College of Technology to create an Institute of Technology (IoT) as part of a new wave of government funded skills institutions. After an exhaustive procurement process the project has moved to the ‘pre-award stage’ which in effect gives it the green-light to go ahead.
The bid was led by Dudley College of Technology alongside an extensive partnership including The Universities of Wolverhampton and Worcester and employers such as Thomas Dudley Ltd, The Hadley Group, Grainger & Worrell Ltd, The Dudley NHS Foundation Trust and Fulcro Coins.
The new IoT will focus its provision on advanced manufacturing, modern construction methodologies and medical engineering, all of which are critical transformational sectors for the regional economy.
The project will change the landscape of Dudley with the development of a three-storey 4,750m2 building sited on Castle Hill adjacent to the new Metro stop, the very Light Rail Innovation Centre and the Black Country Living Museum. Work on the flagship new build is planned to start in October this year with the Institute open for learners in September 2021. The IoT will also operate from the Marches Centre for Manufacturing Technology in Bridgnorth.
By 2025 the IoT plans to support over 2,000 new learners following higher level technical programmes with an emphasis on Apprenticeships. The project totals some £32.5m of investment. Today’s announcement confirms the government’s intention to support £16.8m capital funding and the award of the prestigious IoT licence and brand.
Commenting on the success of the bid Lowell Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Dudley College of Technology said:
“I’m delighted that our proposal has been accepted. This is a marvellous opportunity for the people and businesses of the Black Country and the wider West Midlands region. They will have access to a national leading skills centre right on their doorstep. The role of the IoT will be to develop the technical skills base of the region in sectors where there are skills shortages and high demand. It will help both individuals and businesses to thrive, and provide a further boost the regional economy. I can’t thank all of the project partners enough for their tremendous support.”
Welcoming the announcement Dudley North, MP Ian Austin said:
“This is brilliant news for Dudley. I’ve always said we need to make education and skills our number one priority because there’ll be massive growth and lots of well-paid jobs in new hi-tech industries over the next 20 years, so this will help us develop the skills we need to attract new industries and new jobs, help local businesses grow, give youngsters a first class start and help adults get new jobs too. I’ve worked really hard to support this project and I want to thank Lowell and his team who are making such a difference in Dudley.”
Echoing the sense of achievement Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, Professor Geoff Layer, said: “This centre will help meet the demand and the skills gap that employers in the region are telling us about. This will lead to a more highly skilled workforce and help to continue to regenerate the regional economy.”
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who in February wrote to Minister of State for Education, Anne Milton MP, in support of the IoT bid, said:
“This is fantastic news for Dudley and for the wider West Midlands, and I am delighted for Dudley College.
“The Dudley IoT will boost people’s skills, and offer great courses in industries where our regional economy is booming.
“The Dudley IoT will help local people gain great qualifications, so they have a better chance of getting a rewarding career in sectors which are growing very quickly. The IoT will also support the introduction of T-levels and help underpin growth in apprenticeships, to support our regional aspiration that everyone has the opportunity to access great training and great careers in the West Midlands.”
On behalf of employers Tom Westley, Chairman of the Westley Group Ltd and Black Country LEP board director said:
“This is wonderful news for Dudley, the Black Country, the Marches and all our surrounding businesses. It builds on the College’s success and will play a crucial part in further reinforcing and boosting this area as a great place to locate your business, where excellent ‘state of the art’ skills training facilities are on your doorstep and you can access a highly skilled workforce.”
The next step of the process is for the College and partners to attend a workshop for the select group of fellow awardees which will take place in London in May.