South West IOT

Universities, Colleges and Employer partners sign multi-million pound partnership deal for South West Institute of Technology (SWIOT)

  • Partners across the South West have signed a partnership agreement signalling a multi-million pound investment in the region.
  • The SWIOT will train thousands of students in technical subjects across the region, bringing unparalleled skills development and career opportunities
  • The government has plans for twelve new IOTs to equip the British workforce with skills across key sectors.

The SWIOT is a unique collaboration between a number of partner organisations, including the University of Exeter, University of Plymouth, Bridgwater & Taunton College, City College Plymouth, Exeter College, Petroc and Truro & Penwith College, each investing in the development of state-of-the-art facilities for training in technical subjects to create Britain’s next generation of highly skilled technicians and engineers.  The SWIOT also draws on expertise from a group of ‘anchor employers’ who will lead its strategic direction and ensure focus on the latest industry skills – they include Oxygen House and the Met Office in Exeter, Babcock in Plymouth and TDK Lambda in Ilfracombe, with investment from the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) for the Heart of the South West and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Catering for up to 2,500 students in apprenticeship and full-time courses, from post-16 to Masters degree level, the SWIOT’s combined facilities will match the best available in the UK and help put the South West region at the forefront of digital and engineering education. They will include virtual and augmented reality environments, digital learning laboratories, artificial intelligence arenas, new clean workspaces, workshops, emergent manufacturing spaces with industry level equipment, and shared learning spaces.

Andy Correy, Head of Production at Babcock, said “This is great news for the South West and offers exciting new opportunities and facilities for those wishing to develop technical knowledge, skills and careers in the region. It forms a truly collaborative approach between HE, FE and leading employers who are all focused on ensuring this provides world class technical education and training, enabling it to become the leading region for digital, engineering and manufacturing technologies”

Charles Ewen, Director of Technology at the Met Office, said: “The Met Office relies on the talent of our people in order to deliver world-class technology supporting world-leading science and services.  An Institute of Technology in the South West will align the delivery of very high quality technology education and skills from a range of higher and further education providers in the region with significant benefits to learners and employers.  We are delighted to be part of this”

Speaking about the multi-million-pound partnership deal for South West Institute of Technology, Paul Swan, Financial Director at TDK-Lambda UK said: “As a design and manufacturing enterprise based in North Devon, some distance from large cities and universities, attracting and retaining sufficient engineering talent can often be difficult. The South West Institute of Technology partnership fosters the growth of and augments the collaboration within the region. We are delighted to be involved and excited about the new opportunities it will bring to young people in the South West.”

Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP), Steve Hindley, said: “The partnership agreement marks a major milestone in establishing the South West Institute of Technology; bringing together our area’s outstanding colleges, leading universities and some of our strongest businesses to deliver the skills our economy needs today and into the future. HotSW LEP looks forward to working with the SWIOT to deliver critical technical skills for our digital and engineering sectors, as well as new opportunities for additional growth, better jobs and stretching prosperity across our community”.

Professor Janice Kay, Provost of the University of Exeter said: “The University of Exeter is proud to partner with other education providers and employers for the benefit of thousands of students across the South West.  Planned for 12 in total, Institutes of Technology are nationally significant multi-million pound initiatives.  They will provide the best training to raise regional productivity and economic growth in technical skills.  Through new specialist facilities, the University will deliver exciting technical education in digital and advanced engineering, benefitting from its leading status as a science university and a member of the national Alan Turing Institute.”

David Walrond, Principal at Truro and Penwith College, said: “This final approval of the Institute of Technology by the Department for Education is excellent news for Cornwall. It will help fund a state-of-the-art new £7 million facility on our Truro campus to provide a range of local progression opportunities into higher education and apprenticeship provision. The design, in partnership with the growing group of engineering and digital businesses in Cornwall, will help meet the local higher skills needs for these important industries, offering well paid careers and making a valuable contribution to local economic growth .”

John Laramy, Exeter College Principal and Chief Executive, said: “Exeter College is delighted that the collective Institute of Technology submission for the South West has been successful, this shows what we can achieve when businesses, universities and colleges all work together as one. The Exeter component of the Institute of Technology focuses on digital, data and the high level skills required by employers in the Exeter area, we are therefore delighted that the Met Office and Oxygen House were a key part of the successful bid.”

“City College Plymouth is constantly striving to develop and further enhance our city’s technical expertise and support vital business growth. This exciting initiative will offer superb opportunities for our students, apprentices and industry partners, particularly addressing technical skills gaps in the marine engineering and digital sectors through new curriculum and courses based in state of the art new facilities” Jackie Grubb, Principal and Chief Executive, City College Plymouth

Sean Mackney, Principal and CEO at Petroc said “The Institute of Technology will provide employers in Northern and Mid Devon with the trained workforce that is so critically needed to meet the skills shortages across our world class engineering, manufacturing and digital businesses. We are sure that being  part of this prestigious programme, with the investment it brings, will inspire people to reskill, upskill and develop their careers in the local area, supporting enhanced productivity and business growth.”

Andy Berry, Principal of Bridgwater & Taunton College, said “This is a real step change in education, this partnership has been developed between educational providers and employers, with a focus on creating solutions to fill industry specific skills shortages which will benefit our students and local community. It will enable companies based in the South West to develop the skills they need to compete and grow in a global market making our region more attractive to inward investors.”