Following a successful application led by SOLENT UNIVERSITY, Southampton, and backed by over £13 million in funding from the Department of Education, the South Coast Institute of Technology (IOT) has officially been launched.
The South Coast IoT is a collaboration of five further education colleges and two universities – Solent University, University of Portsmouth, Havant and South Down College, Brockenhurst College, Fareham College, Eastleigh College and the Isle of Wight College. It will open to new students from September 2023, and is expected to welcome over 1000 students across the seven educational partners in the first academic year.
Professor Karen Stanton, Solent University Vice-Chancellor, says, “We are proud to play such a big part in delivering this great news for the region. To be able to deliver education benefits to many more learners and offer further opportunities for education and growth across our community will be of huge benefit to the area, both educationally and economically.”
It will deliver a wide range of flexible post-16 technical education including, T Levels, Higher Technical qualifications, apprenticeships, degrees, and professional qualifications. These courses can lead to a wide range of exciting and dynamic career pathways, from super yacht engineers and manufacturing wind turbines to researching long-term sustainable solutions to climate change and building virtual production film sets. Building work will start on seven capital grant projects to create industry-standard facilities, including the construction of new Centres of Excellence (CoE) and the expansion of existing centres across providers.
The over £13 million government investment will help fund:
construction of an Engineering Centre of Excellence (COE) at Solent University, Southampton
enhanced facilities at Fareham College’s CEMAST campus in Lee-on-the-Solent
a new higher education digital centre and expansion of CECAMM at the Isle of Wight College
a new digital centre at Eastleigh College
refurbished engineering and digital facilities across Havant and South Downs College
new equipment at the marine technology centre at Brockenhurst College.
The University of Portsmouth, will also benefit from the funding, enhancing their provision of high-quality degree, technical and apprenticeship programmes serving the community.
The South Coast IoT is central to ensuring a sufficient home-grown workforce with the right skills to meet industry needs. It is working with key employers including, the Royal Navy and Portsmouth International Port, and has support from key local employers such as IBM, QinetiQ, Leonardo, Maritime UK Solent, GKN, DDC, and Teemill.
It aims to increase education and employment opportunities across maritime, engineering and digital industries. A key priority of the initiative is to support individuals from under-represented groups to foster valuable connections and access sustainable, well-paid careers.
Matt Johnson, the Director of the South Coast Institute of Technology says, “This is a fantastic opportunity for our education partners to work collaboratively with employers to provide clear career pathways into the industries where we know there are gaps.”
“The maritime, engineering and digital industries are some of the most diverse and rapidly expanding sectors in our region, with tens of thousands of job vacancies for talented people. Our high-quality training, industry-expert educators, real-world curriculum and state-of-the-art equipment and facilities will help local people to live, study and work locally and realise their potential, he continues.”
Building on an existing framework of extensive and well-placed initiatives, such as the Solent Maritime Enterprise Zone, the Solent region is on the cusp of a new era of growth and innovation. The Solent LEP have recently announced the new Solent 2050 strategy and exciting Solent Freeport initiative. Collaborations between employers and industries have shaped the high-level skills courses available.
From apprenticeships to degree level courses, the South Coast IoT is well-placed to develop skills and drive ambition for students preparing for their first step into skilled employment, already in work or those wishing to retrain.
John McNamara, Master Inventor and UK University Programs Lead at IBM, says, "This is a wonderful opportunity to engage with the South Coast IoT, to support them in filling the skills gap and give people the tools they need to build a better future.” Rear Admiral Jude Terry, Director of People and Training at the Royal Navy, says, “The Royal Navy is delighted to be a core employer partner of the South Coast IoT, as its impact will be significant. Integral to the bidding process, through our Solent Maritime Enterprise Zone team, we see this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle the higher technical skills shortage not only in the region but nationally and is essential in supporting a much-needed growth in productivity particularly in the maritime, engineering and digital industries. The Royal Navy’s strong support underlines the importance that we place on skills initiatives and we look forward to collaborating with the IoT.”