Known as the 'missing middle' of England's education system, higher technical education (HTE) got a welcome boost last week when the government announced £30m of investment in capacity building and course development over the next year. HTE is a critical area of education provision in England, offering vital progression pathways for young people wanting to access high-skilled jobs early in their careers, as well as opportunities for upskilling and retraining the adult workforce.
The announcement included a new £18m Growth Fund will provide support for Further Education Colleges (FECs), universities and independent training providers intending to offer digital, health & science and construction Higher Technical Qualifications as they become approved by IFATE over the next 2 years. Funding will enable providers to meet the demands of these high quality courses by upgrading equipment, upskilling teaching and technical staff, and raising awareness of HTE with potential learners, particularly adults who may have been out of education for a while.
The importance and value of Institutes of Technology (IoTs) - consortia of FECs, universities and employers with a focus on STEM HTE - has also been recognised with £12m of funding to develop and pilot short courses focused on meeting pressing local needs as well as preparing employers for the opportunities new technologies and processes can afford them. Partnerships are crucial to this work, and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult will be working closely with the IoTs to align technological expertise with curriculum and pedagogical know-how in the design of courses for 'emerging skills'.
The announcement follows last year's government review of HTE, and the publication of the Skills for Jobs white paper in January, in recognising the crucial role HTE plays in providing more opportunities for adults of all ages to gain the benefits of high-skilled employment.