Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, opened the West of England Institute of Technology (WEIoT) on Thursday (8th October).
The official WEIoT launch was a virtual event, which brought together all the education institutions and employers that have been involved bringing it to its fruition.
In 2019 the first Institutes of Technology (IoT) were selected through a government-led competition and 12 were awarded – the WEIoT was one of these.
The WEIoT is a consortium of education providers and key employers across the West of England. It has been led by Weston College and includes the University of the West of England, Bath College, Gloucestershire College, and Yeovil College as well as a network of key local employers, including; GKN Aerospace, Airbus, GE Aviation, Renishaw, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Trust, , St Monica Trust, Jisc, Mayden Academy, National Composites Centre (NCC), North Somerset Council, Leonardo, Rolls Royce and Bamboo Technology.
Speaking ahead of her visit, the Apprenticeships Minister said: “I’m looking forward to launching the West of England Institute of Technology and speaking to some of the employers, including GKN Aerospace Services Limited, Mayden Academy and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, who have worked so hard to bring it to life.
“Institutes of Technology will be the pinnacle of technical training, offering higher technical STEM education and training in key sectors, such as advanced manufacturing and engineering, construction and infrastructure, and digital which will be even more important as we build back better from the pandemic. By collaborating with businesses, IoTs can deliver the technical knowledge and practical workplace skills employers are demanding – like nowhere else.
“I’m excited to speak to students and staff about the opportunities the IoT will offer them and the wider benefits it will have for the wider community.”
Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of the Weston College Group, commented: “We are thrilled to be launching the WEIoT, and to welcome the Minister to witness the investment that this initiative is bringing. The WEIoT will significantly influence skills development and innovation on both a regional and national basis and the WEIoT strength is working collaboratively with other institutes and employers.”
In December 2019, the consortium appointed Claire Arbery as the Director of the WEIoT. Claire has been pivotal to the mobilisation of the project, Claire commented on the importance of the investment for the area: “The WEIoT funding has created opportunities for the educational partners to invest in cutting edge technology to provide their learners and employers with facilities to drive forward the developments needed to help build recovery. The focus on technical skills and education offered by the collaborative approach will bring wider benefits and the IoT will be able to support learners who may not have thought that higher level skills training was for them using our digital connectivity to its full potential.”
The West of England Combined Authority has also contributed £500,000 towards the project, and this funding has been used to support the digital capability toolkit for the WEIoT, so that all FE partners can be upskilled to deliver digital lessons.
Tim Bowles, Mayor of the West of England, said: “Technical skills are vital to our region’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. My plan for our Economic Recovery sets out how we will make sure our residents have the opportunities they need to train or retrain in this growing sector.
“Improving job prospects, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, can fulfil their potential is one of my key ambitions for the region and the new West of England Institute of Technology will help make that a reality. It will give us the training we need for our residents to get the decent, well paid jobs that our region will rely on in the future.”
Watch the launch event here: