Call for Engagement - Institutes of Technology

Following the announcement of £170m of capital funding to support the creation of new Institutes of Technology (IoTs) in Government's Industrial Strategy Green Paper in January, please find Government's call for engagement on IoTs below.

The attached briefing and FAQs gives more details including information on the approach and timing for the process by which Government will identify IoTs and allocate capital funding as well as inviting potential applicants to register interest through a dedicated e-mail address: institute.technology@education.gov.uk.

For further information on IoTs, please email institute.technology@education.gov.uk.

For a series of frequently asked questions regarding IoTs, click here

For the official IoT briefing note, click here

Institutes of Technology – Next Steps

The Government will be launching a call for proposals to establish Institutes of Technology in Spring 2017.  Applicants will be able to bid into a £170m fund to establish institutions which specialise in delivering the higher level technical skills that employers need, in areas  with evidence of a higher level skills gap and clear learner demand. 

Background – the requirement

In the UK we currently have too few people equipped with the higher level technical skills our economy needs. This skills gap is harming the economy, hindering productivity and hampering the life chances of thousands of young people. This problem is particularly acute in the supply of higher level technical skills in STEM subjects, where industry demand is growing, driven by the pace of technological change and changing demographics. The Government is tackling this by introducing far-reaching reforms to the provision of technical education to increase the supply of technical skills and ensure that employers have access to the skills they need.

As part of this, we are supporting the creation of new Institutes of Technology (IoTs) to achieve a step-change in provision of technical education in STEM subjects at levels 3, 4 and 5. Whilst some high-quality provision already exists, we need to grow this across the country by making full use of  inititaives such as the expansion of Apprenticeships and Advanced Learner Loans.  IoTs will embody local employers in leadership, governance, and design and delivery of curriculum, offering learners differentiated provision with a clear route to skilled employment or higher education.  IoTs will be critical to the successful delivery of the new occupational routes and qualifications outlined in the Post-16 Skills Plan when they are introduced from 2019.

Key Features of an IoT

IoTs should meet local economic needs for higher technical STEM skills by strengthening and growing provision to fill gaps in the market. The detailed offer will vary from area to area but is expected to be based around the following:

  • boosting provision at Levels 4 and 5 in STEM subjects;
  • developing a strong pipeline of provision at Level 3 either as part of the IoT offer or with clear pathways of progression to the IoT’s level 4/5 provision; 
  • up-skilling or re-skilling the existing workforce, to keep pace with rapid technological change; and
  • using innovative modes of delivery.

This will help raise the prestige of technical education so that it is a credible high quality alternative to academic routes. By defining the features of an IoT and the outcomes we expect them to deliver we want to encourage new partnerships between key local stakeholders who can help address local and national skills gaps. These partnerships can build upon existing technical education provision and leverage assets where appropriate to secure the step change which is required.

Critical Success Factors

IoTs  will have a clear identity and must meet the following critical success factors:

  1. Strong employer engagement in governance and leadership as well as the design and delivery of the curriculum;
  2. Specialise in teaching technical Routes set out in the Post-16 Skills Plan, focussed towards STEM subjects;
  3. Offer high quality provision – in teaching, facilities and equipment – at levels 3, 4 and 5;
  4. Local focus to deliver qualifications and apprenticeships of value that meet the skills needs of local employers;
  5. Use the IoT status to distinguish themselves and raise the prestige of technical training in the local area;
  6. Work collaboratively with other providers to avoid duplication by building on high-quality provision in an area; and
  7. Be financially sustainable.

By meeting these success factors, we expect IoTs to deliver improved outcomes in  the quality and occupational relevance of higher-level technical training and to increase and  widen participation at Levels 4 and 5. 

We are not defining ‘local focus’ as we will leave it for bidders to decide the right area boundary for their proposal which makes sense for their business case in terms of learner number forecasts, local labour market, provider landscape and partnerships in the proposal, as well as travel to learn distances. IoTs can also make a significant contribution to social mobility so we would welcome applications to deliver provision in the recently announced Opportunity Areas and other areas where social mobility is low.    

We expect the first IoTs to open in 2018.  They should be financially sustainable by covering the full cost of provision through associated revenue streams once fully operational.

Delivery Models

Given the nationwide variance in skills needs and provision, we are not prescribing a ‘one size fits all’ delivery model but will offer flexibility for bidders to adopt models best suited to their local needs.  We have worked with a number of organisations to test the viability of different delivery and governance models and  different examples included:

  • extending technical education provision from within an existing high-performing college while providing for liability to be limited contractually or through funding provisions, or through a legally separate subsidiary;
  • delivery through partnerships of FE and HE though a range of legal structures such as a Joint Venture or Special Purpose Vehicle using a company limited by guarantee;
  • a group of employers partnering with an education provider to create an IoT; and
  • establishing a wholly new institution where there is evidence that existing providers cannot meet higher level STEM skills needs.

Process

Who can bid?

We expect the majority of proposals to emerge from the Area Review process which has stimulated many local areas to consider how an IoT could best be established to meet their specific needs. In most cases, these are based on a FE College working collaboratively and innovatively across further and higher education and industry usually as part of a consortium.  In these cases, bids can be submitted by the lead partner of a consortium, who could be either an FE College, HEI, Private Training Provider or Employer Consortia representing more than one employer; or by the LEP or Combined Authority.

Proposals would need to be supported by:

  • in most cases an FE College, unless there is robust evidence that this is not appropriate for the local area;
  • the lead authority for local economic policy to confirm fit with strategic economic priorities (either the Local Economic Partnership (LEP) or Combined Authority).
  • local employers identified as potential "anchor partners".

However, we recognise that in some areas there may not be an appropriate local FE College provider for the type of provision envisaged.  Where an FE College does not feature in a proposal, the application will need to be supported by the LEP or Combined Authority who will need to to provide clear evidence for the choice of delivery partners, drawing on Area Review recommendations or emerging conclusions as well as underlying evidence.

We would not expect to see competing bids which duplicate provision in an area and we would expect the requirement that bids are supported by the LEP or Combined Authority to ensure this does not happen.

Awarding IoT status

Successful bidders will be awarded the IoT status. An accountable body will need to be awarded IoT status and capital funding who in most cases would be the newly formed IoT or else the FE College as a proxy. Equally the IoT status can be revoked if the outcomes stated in the business plan have not been achieved or the quality of provision is below the expected standard. Please note this does not have to be the ‘lead’ bidder of a consortia.

A high-level outline of the expected timeline and process is provided in the Annex to this note. More details on the bidding process will be included in the competition prospectus to be published alongside the competition launch in Spring.   

Funding details

The £170M fund is for capital investment to support industry-standard facilities and equipment, building where possible on existing assets.  In terms of core revenue streams, we would expect IoTs to harness the Apprenticeship Levy, Advanced Learner Loans and relevant EFA/SFA/HEFCE funding, supplemented by commercial income (eg bespoke courses for local employers). Potential bidders should carefully consider their assumptions around learner number forecasts and progression routes to levels 4/5.  These may include school leavers (at level 3), full and part time adult learners, apprenticeships and courses for local employers.

Registering interest and next steps

We are continuing to engage with stakeholders and representative organisations and will provide further details when we launch the call for proposals in the Spring.

Interested parties should register their interest with the IoT team at the Department for Education at: institute.technology@education.gov.uk  

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