New Technology Institutes could ‘fail’ to tackle regional skills gap, warns Northern Powerhouse director

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
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The formation of 12 educational centres to boost technical training could fall short of addressing a regional skills gap because only two are in the North of England, it has been claimed.

The warning was made by Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership - set up to represent civic and business leaders in the region - following an announcement that a dozen Institutes of Technology will be set up.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the institutes in locations including York and Durham would “help end outdated perceptions” that university is the only desirable option for young people looking for highly-skilled jobs.

The institutes, announced yesterday, will be collaborations between universities, further education colleges, and employers including Nissan, Siemens and Microsoft.

Mr Murison said while the move was welcome, better representation is needed in the North of England when decisions are made over how to rebalance the economy.

He said: “The Northern Powerhouse Partnership welcomes the Government’s decision to select Durham and York as locations for Institutes of Technology, reflecting the expertise in those city regions.

“However, by only choosing two locations in the North out of a possible twelve, and the North West missing out entirely, the Government is failing to address the scale of the skills challenge facing the North.

“The Northern Powerhouse is full of talent and ingenuity and can be a global leader in the next industrial revolution to collaborate and compete with China’s mega cities but we will miss out on this opportunity if we do not close the gap on skills.”

The first institutes are set to open this year after sites including York College and New College Durham were chosen. The York scheme will work with two universities, six local colleges and employers including Skipton Building Society.

The Government said it would be part of the biggest shake-up to technical education in a generation.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said the institutes would be the “pinnacle of technical training”, focusing on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

Announcing the project he said: “I’m determined to properly establish higher technical training in this country so that it’s recognised and sought after by employers and young people alike.”