A new Institute of Technology dedicated to space science and digital and cyber technologies could help the Leicester economy get back up to speed post-Covid.
A partnership including The University of Leicester and De Montfort University have drawn up plans to build a £13 million “skills factory” to train up the next generation of hi-tech engineers and developers.
Other partners include Leicester College, Stephenson College & Brooksby Melton College (The SMB Group), North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, the National Space Centre and employers including Airbus, Reaction Engines and WSP Engineering.
They would work closed with businesses to employ the right people with the right skills enter the local employment marketplace.
The plans for the Leicester and Leicestershire Institute of Technology (IoT) in Space, Digital, Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering have just taken a big step forward after being chosen to go through to the next round of applications for one of eight new UK IoTs.
It would help students of all levels and ages get qualifications in STEM subjects ranging from T-Levels to postgraduate.
The University of Leicester says the IoT would:
• Use the university’s decades of experience in space science and engineering and in supporting space missions to provide high levels of technical training and access to multi-national partners such as Airbus.
• Use De Montfort University’s expertise in digital skills, computing and cyber-security to deliver training in areas such as security, space, automotive, aerospace and the digital industries.
• Help employers find recruits with the right skills to meet their needs – and manage courses to potential employers’ requirements.
• Provide specific support to students who might have been socially disadvantaged and left behind by the education system.
The successful applicants will be revealed later this year.
Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “All of us at the University of Leicester are very excited to see this joint bid progress to the final stage for Government funding.
“To reach this stage not only demonstrates the University’s long track record in space science and research, but our commitment to providing skills-based opportunities in Leicester and the surrounding region.
“We look forward to continuing this collaboration with our education and industry partners as we seek to provide further opportunities in our city.”
Professor Katie Normington, Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University, said: “To win this bid would mean being able to really use the training expertise we have at DMU as a regional leader in apprenticeship delivery to bolster the development of crucial digital skills throughout the region.
“By working with Leicestershire education partners we will be able to provide a comprehensive, ideal range of experience to ensure this IoT is a catalyst for economic growth and innovation into the future.”
Verity Hancock, Principal and CEO of Leicester College, said: “We’re delighted to be collaborating with key partners on this joint bid for a pioneering Institute of Technology in Leicestershire, utilising the combined strengths of local universities, colleges and space-related businesses.
“A successful bid would mean that we can call on a wide range of partner expertise to enable us to develop and deliver new training opportunities at HNC/HND and apprenticeship levels.”
Dawn Whitemore, Principal and CEO of The SMB Group, said: “We are delighted to be working with the University of Leicester and key partners in the IoT joint bid process, and excited to be progressing this to the final stages for Government funding.
“Working closely with employers we will continue to develop key skills and training in engineering and agricultural technology at HNC/HND and apprenticeship level.
“This will ensure an industry-driven, learner-led approach to deliver the workforce of the future.”
The University of Leicester says there are 4,500 people employed within the space sector across the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) area, and an anticipation of up to 2,500 new jobs being created by the Space Park Leicester technology hub, the first phase of which is now complete.
Space Park Leicester is being developed by local, national and international partners including the European Space Agency (ESA), Leicester City Council and the LLEP as part of a regional strategy for growth.
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