The Secretary of State was joined by the West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, together with a delegation of learners, apprentices, employers and education partners, for a tour of the construction site of the new Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology (GBSIoT) Hub.
GBSIoT is one of 12 Institutes of Technology (IoTs) being established across England as unique collaborations between further education colleges, universities and employers to offer technical education and training at higher skills levels in key STEM sectors.
The GBSIoT is designed to create a ‘powerhouse’ for advanced manufacturing and engineering and is a collaboration between further education providers, universities and employers for the region.
The consortium is led by Solihull College & University Centre, with Aston University, Birmingham City University and South and City College Birmingham as members and supported by BMET College, University College Birmingham and the University of Birmingham as partners.
During his visit, the Secretary of State also spent some time with Tim Pile, the Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), and Saskia Loer Hansen, incoming Interim Vice-Chancellor at Aston University to discuss the partnership and opportunities for learners across the region.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “It was wonderful to visit Aston University today to see progress on the new Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology (GBSIoT) Hub, which will open up more opportunities for people to get the skills they need to get good jobs in engineering and manufacturing in the local region.
“Institutes of Technology are the pinnacle of technical training. By uniquely bringing together further education colleges, universities and businesses, they ensure people can get the skills they need to progress, and that businesses get the talented workforce they need to thrive.”
He also toured Aston University’s recently refurbished mechanical engineering spaces, met with mechanical engineering students and was introduced to the Auto-Pod, a state-of-the-art autonomous vehicle funded by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and Institute of Technology and used for research and teaching.
Tim Pile, Chair of GBSLEP said, “ Our investment of £1.6 million pounds into the GBSIoT is testament to our core belief that business-led skills training is at the heart of inclusive economic growth and post-pandemic recovery. As a stakeholder member of the GBSIoT steering group, we are ensuring that locally-led evidence is shared in order to direct resources to potential areas of growth. Furthermore, we have begun the process of forging a strong relationship between the consortium and our GBSLEP Skills and Apprenticeship Hub to ensure that training meets the requirements of employers and businesses in order to create a tangible pipeline of talent. This is all made possible by our triple helix structure of bringing private, pubic and academic sector leaders together to make locally informed decisions for the good of our people and region.”
Saskia Loer Hansen, incoming Interim Vice-Chancellor for Aston University said: “We are a proud partner of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology and it was a pleasure to host the Secretary of State and the Mayor of the West Midlands at the site of the GBSIoT Hub and engineering facilities on our campus today.
“Aston University has a long history of partnering with industry to deliver much-needed technical skills, and the IoT is central to our future contribution to the region’s skills base. The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology is forging clear pathways to highly-skilled jobs and this is a testament to the power of collaboration between colleges, universities and employers.”
Carl Arntzen CEO of Worcester Bosch and Chair of GBSIoT said: “We are really pleased to welcome the Secretary of State today to see at first hand the strength of the GBSIoT partnership driving innovation in curriculum, skills and research. The GBSIoT Hub, when open in 2022, will contain Europe’s largest educational Cyber Physical Manufacturing Rig which will both drive greater innovation and inspire our young people to take full advantage of the exciting opportunities that exist in the engineering and manufacturing sector in the region.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “It was fantastic to welcome the Secretary of State for Education to the West Midlands to show off the site of what will be the phenomenal new IoT facility at Aston University.
“The West Midlands is doing some brilliant work around education and reducing a historically poor skills gap, and the two new IoTs in the region will continue to help people get the skills they need to move into quality jobs with long-term prospects.
“I know the Secretary of State is very impressed by what is planned for Aston University, and I look forward to the close working relationship he will have with the West Midlands as we work together to improve people’s life chances through education.”
Mike Hopkins, Principal of South and City College Birmingham, said: “It is excellent to have the support from the Secretary of State for our IoT, the partnership between the colleges and the universities and the investment in technology has massively expanded our ability to provide the higher technical training needed for engineering and manufacturing in our region.”
GBSIoT will jointly design, develop and widen education and training opportunities aligned to the latest skills needs of leading-edge employers. GBSIoT will deliver for the local, regional and national economy; and is a crucial element of the Government’s priorities for technical education.
As well as a range of training including apprenticeships, HNCs and foundation degrees in engineering, the GBSIoT offers new in-work skills courses to help adults already in work to rapidly upskill or retrain in green areas including low carbon engineering, electrification technology and the testing and repair of electric/hybrid vehicles and components.
The Hub, which is due to open in Spring 2022 will be home to a new cyber-physical manufacturing rig that will create a simulated working environment for IoT learners.