The West of England Institute of Technology (WEIoT), which is to deliver higher-level technical education for the digital, engineering and health sectors, is to be opened virtually on 8 October by Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skill. The WEIoT’s consortium includes the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and other education providers and key employers across the West of England.
Speaking ahead of her visit, the Apprenticeships Minister said: “I’m excited to speak to students and staff about the opportunities the IoT will offer them and the wider benefits it will have for the wider community.
“Institutes of Technology will be the pinnacle of technical training, offering higher technical STEM education and training in key sectors, such as advanced manufacturing and engineering, construction and infrastructure, and digital which will be even more important as we build back better from the pandemic. By collaborating with businesses, IoTs can deliver the technical knowledge and practical workplace skills employers are demanding – like nowhere else.”
In 2019 the first Institutes of Technology (IoT) were selected through a government-led competition and 12 were awarded — the WEIoT was one of these.
WEIoT is led by Weston College and includes UWE Bristol, Bath College, Gloucestershire College, and Yeovil College as well as a network of key local employers, including GKN Aerospace, Airbus, GE Aviation, Renishaw, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Trust, St Monica Trust, Jisc, Mayden Academy, National Composites Centre (NCC), North Somerset Council, Leonardo, Rolls Royce, and Bamboo Technology.
The Institute’s overall aim is to deliver up to 2,000 training places over the next five years. As part of the WEIoT, UWE Bristol offers courses in Advanced Engineering, Digital and High technology, as well as Health and Life Sciences.
Thanks to the WEIoT, the University will also invest £2m in state-of-the-art facilities at its Glenside and Frenchay campuses including specialist cyber networking equipment, an aerospace and mechanical engineering laboratory and electronic simulation systems.
It will also set up nursing patient simulators, a diagnostic radiography X-Ray unit, virtual imaging systems and immersive interactive simulators. Biological science specialist equipment including nutrient analysers and high-performing chromatograph systems will also be installed.
UWE Bristol Vice-Chancellor Steve West said: "To keep up with the advent of new and disruptive technologies and as job roles change and new ones are created, higher technical skills have never been so important. We are proud to be part of the West of England Institute of Technology and believe that the courses we are offering through the consortium will give young people the best chance of hitting the ground running when entering a fast-changing workplace."
In December 2019 the consortium appointed Claire Arbery as the Director of the WEIoT. Claire commented on the importance of the investment for the area: “The WEIoT funding has created opportunities for the educational partners to invest in cutting edge technology to provide their learners and employers with facilities to drive forward the developments needed to help build recovery.
“The focus on technical skills and education offered by the collaborative approach will bring wider benefits and the IoT will be able to support learners who may not have thought that higher level skills training was for them using our digital connectivity to its full potential.”
The West of England Combined Authority has also contributed £500,000 towards the project and this funding has been used to support the digital capability toolkit for the WEIoT, so that all FE partners can be upskilled to deliver digital lessons.