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Norfolk and Suffolk colleges launch bid for multimillion pound institute of technology

An engineer preparing a Tornado GR4 for take off at RAF Marham. Picture: Ian Burt

An engineer preparing a Tornado GR4 for take off at RAF Marham. Picture: Ian Burt

Colleges in Norfolk and Suffolk have mounted a multimillion pound bid to form an institute for technology to meet the demand for advanced skills.

Stuart Rimmer, principal of East Coast College. Picture: East Coast College Stuart Rimmer, principal of East Coast College. Picture: East Coast College

East Coast College (ECC), in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, the College of West Anglia (CWA), in King’s Lynn, West Suffolk College (WSC), in Bury St Edmunds, and Suffolk New College (SNC), in Ipswich, have applied to the Department for Education (DfE) for a slice of a £170m pot put aside for the schemes.

It is thought there will be no more than 12 of the institutes, which were announced in January and will deliver science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) training.

The Institute of Technology in the East would not just cater for younger students – with a focus on higher level skills, it is likely that many would be older learners looking to retrain or transfer from other sectors.

Stuart Rimmer, principal of ECC, said it would be based across the colleges and would make use of new facilities – including an in-progress £11.4m energy skills centre at ECC and a £6.5m university centre at CWA.

He said: “This is really about how we address the higher level skills gap, at levels four, five and six, for example, while at the same time increasing the region’s productivity. It’s an exciting development for the region and the support of higher technical skills.”

He said – though some of the region’s cities were smaller than others – the collaborative model would hopefully give the bid a stronger chance.

It is likely the colleges would play to their strengths, he said, with ECC making the most of its energy industry links.

The bid - which was launched at the East of England Energy Group’s reception at the House of Commons last week - is backed by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and forms part of its economic strategy until 2036.

A statement on behalf of the consortium of colleges said: “We are bidding for investment from central government to create an innovative and vibrant hub for energy, engineering, digital technology and advanced manufacturing; to raise aspirations, and provide our businesses with the highly skilled technical workforce they need to thrive.

“This locally-driven bid is a collective effort to increase productivity and prosperity, benefiting our students, our businesses and our communities, across the whole of East Anglia.”

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