Headlines: May 9th, 2002

Technology colleges are to be set up across the regions of England to help businesses struggling to fill skilled information technology jobs.Eighteen regional groupings of higher education institutions, further education colleges, and private sector partners, have been given the go-ahead to set up New Technology Institutes (NTIs) with the brief to offer high quality training in advanced technology skills.

The NTIs will be set up from a 25 million pound fund announced last year.

What this injection of money will also achieve is enhanced joint working by further education colleges and universities. The funding cuts across traditional lines and means that the two sector funding bodies, Higher Education Funding Council for universities and Learning and Skills Council for FE, will share a single pot of funds for this project. They will also have to work with key regional agencies to ensure the courses they offer match the local skills needs.

The new centres include West Yorkshire NTI which will provide computing, networking, telecommunications, hardware repair and maintenance skills, Lancashire and Cumbria NTI, which will focus on the need for information technology in local engineering, aerospace and automotive industries, and Ipswich NTI which will provide training in multi-media, digital arts and accountancy in Suffolk.

Other centres will be in Birmingham, Coventry, Kingston University and the University of East London in the capital, Manchester, Bournemouth, Bath, Loughborough, Leicester, Canterbury, Reading, Leeds, Hull, south Essex, Northumberland and Teesside.

NTIs will offer courses from NVQ level 3 to Foundation Degree, for both full-time students and those in employment, and create pathways to honours degrees. Each NTI will be expected to train 250 to 500 students per year, and to provide consultancy services to 50 local companies each year. The first are expected to open this autumn, and all NTIs should be fully operational by 2004/05