We welcome the proposals outlined in DfE’s recent policy statement on Institutes of Technology. We are delighted that our recommendations—most prominently the need for these institutions to leverage existing assets—have been incorporated into these proposals.

Technical Education is at the heart of Britain’s Modern Industrial Strategy and the development of higher-level technical skills will be crucial to meet the challenges posed by Brexit and our lagging productivity levels. The allocation of £170 million in new government funding for Institutes of Technology (IoTs) is a massive opportunity to change the way skills are delivered in this country. I am pleased that our collective efforts to influence the shape and form of the IoT solution has paid off with the guidance very much reflecting our proposals. This clearly demonstrates the impact that the largest further education colleges can have in spurring the development of new and innovative models of delivery for higher level skills.

Over the last year, Collab Group and its member colleges have been working with government, bringing ideas and potential solutions to create successful Institutes of Technology that will deliver quality STEM education across the country. We are pleased that many of our recommendations are being adopted by government, such as placing these new Institutes within existing providers in a hub and spoke model, and overlaying the priorities and recommendations given by the Sainsbury Review and Post-16 Skills Plan

It is evident that the government is serious about getting technical education right; it is the only way to address our growing productivity and skills gaps and offers a solution not only to the ever-changing needs of industry, but also for millions of people across the country for whom a qualification for in-demand skills will be a lifeline into work. It is now for the FE Sector to grasp this opportunity. IoTs will be independent with a Focus on Level 3/4/5 but as part of a clear TPE pathway with the ability to leverage existing capability and capacity in the sector.

Our colleges are seeing themselves as the ones who can stand this up and move it forward. The FE sector, with its strong employer relationships and locally imbedded provision provide a natural fit for the development of these important institutions. We believe that IoTs should operate on a hub and spoke model which will harness the strength of existing providers in a more efficient way rather than developing new institution from scratch. There is a need to create something that can radically alter the delivery of technical education and embed the thinking of the Sainsbury Review. The further education sector collaborating with others has the expertise, knowledge and ambition to make IoTs a reality.

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