Over 30 universities and colleges in England, including Liverpool John Moores University have been awarded a share of £6.1 million by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to develop new and enhanced higher education courses. Working with employers, the projects will help provide the skills needed in the future economy and support the aims of the Industrial Strategy.
The HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund programme funding of £199,375 to LJMU will be used to create ‘the multidisciplinary engineer for the 21st century.’
Professor Ian Jenkinson, who is the project lead and Head of the Department of Maritime and Mechanical Engineering, commented:
“Closing the skills gaps and supporting the Industrial Strategy can be achieved through curriculum development in Higher Education. This funding recognises that investment in new or re-designed HE provision, co-designed with employers and professional bodies, has the potential to drive forward key parts of the economy, increase productivity and support inclusive growth in local and regional economies.
“The growing productivity gap between UK and European manufactures can only be addressed by the application automation and digital technologies across the supply chain. This presents a challenge to manufacturers whose existing workforce may lack the knowledge needed to apply the new technologies.”
The proposed project will deliver an advanced manufacturing up-skilling route to enable employees with decades-old mechanical engineering qualifications to develop new and relevant skills in automation and digital engineering. The project will develop a framework of CPD units in automation in partnership with the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), co-created with the relevant professional engineering body and regional and national employers.
The framework will enable employees with ‘old’ HNC-HND qualifications to up-skill and to access Level 5 of a degree apprenticeship in automation; and employees with ‘old’ degree qualifications to up-skill and to access a Level 7 apprenticeship in automation and management.
The proposal will support the professional body by creating a framework of recorded CPD. Recorded CPD will become mandatory for all registered engineers and technicians from 1 January 2019.
Additional investment provided by the universities and colleges involved, employers and other partners. Universities and colleges will co-develop and co-design courses in conjunction with employers, both national and local.
Across the country, this funding is supporting a range of projects in many different sectors which align with the Industrial Strategy’s ‘Grand Challenges’ – from advanced engineering to data analytics, and from artificial intelligence to bioscience.
HEFCE’s investment will help to enhance graduate outcomes and employability, and upskill the workforce – providing the key skills that industry and employers will need and contributing to UK productivity in the longer term.
HEFCE Chief Executive, Professor Madeleine Atkins, said: “We were delighted with the quality of proposals received for this funding call and particularly the impressive levels of engagement between higher education and industry. This investment represents important support for the government’s Industrial Strategy. The funding will provide new courses and vital skill developments in key industrial sectors across the country, from which students, the workforce and employers all stand to benefit.”
Universities Minister, Sam Gyimah, said: “I welcome the strong support from our higher education sector which highlights its commitment to delivering the skills that students need to thrive in our future economy. These projects will see providers working with employers across the country to develop higher level skills in areas such as digital and engineering, which will be vital to help build a Britain that is fit for the future. This will support the Industrial Strategy which also committed an additional £406 million to improving skills to help ensure we are boosting the earning power for everyone and producing the highly skilled workforce that UK employers need.”