Backed by over £13 million in funding from the Department for Education, the South Coast Institute of Technology (IoT) has been officially launched. It will open to new students from September 2023 and is expected to welcome over 1000 students across the educational partners in the first academic year.
The South Coast IoT is a collaboration of five further education colleges and two universities. 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 now 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 investment will deliver 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, refurbish engineering and digital facilities across Havant and South Downs College, new equipment at the marine technology centre at Brockenhurst College and fund construction of an Engineering CoE at Solent University, Southampton. The University of Portsmouth, which is also a partner, 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 developing the talent pipeline, ensuring a sufficient home-grown workforce with the right skills to meet industry needs. The IoT is working with key employers, including anchor partners the Royal Navy and Portsmouth International Port. The South Coast IoT also have support from key local employers such as IBM, QinetiQ, Leonardo, Maritime UK Solent, GKN, DDC, and Teemill.
The South Coast IoT 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.
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.
Matt Johnson, the Director of the South Coast Institute of Technology, said, “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 teachers, 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.”
Andrew Kaye, Principal and CEO of Fareham College, the lead Further Education College in the partnership, said: “The Solent region has a proven track record of delivering excellent further and higher education provision and has done so through excellent employer engagement initiatives. The South Coast Institute of Technology will provide further opportunities for the region’s current and future students, staff, partner organisations and the wider community, developing the skills needed to support local and regional growth and long-term prosperity across the South.”
John McNamara, Master Inventor and UK University Programs Lead at IBM, said, “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, said, “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.”