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Bath College, as part of a consortium of local education providers, have put forward a proposal to create a South West Institute of Future Technologies (SWIFT), which has been shortlisted by the Department for Education (DfE). If approved, the proposal will see up to £14m of government funding awarded to establish SWIFT, designed to support the DfE ambition to create a network of Institutes of Technology. SWIFT aims to directly enhance the delivery of employer-led science, technology, engineering and maths provision to meet current and future workforce demands.
 

SWIFT is a consortium of education providers and key employers across the South West. A partnership between Bath College, Weston College, the University of the West of England, City of Bristol College, Gloucestershire College and Yeovil College as well as a network of key local employers, including GKN Aerospace, Airbus, GE Aviation, Renishaw, Weston Area Health Trust and St Monica Trust has been established for this project.
 

SWIFT will bring together industry, education and research to design and deliver flexible higher-level technical learning to equip young people and those already in work with the skills to fully exploit new technologies and digital innovation to increase productivity and position the region as the ‘creators and makers’ of the future.
 

Capitalising on respective partners’ areas of academic and industry expertise, SWIFT will provide training solutions to support the continued growth of regional excellence, where industry and academia work together to develop a sustainable pipeline of skilled labour to meet current, emerging and future demand. SWIFT seeks to widen participation in targeted science, technology, engineering and maths higher education to ensure the region has the skills to drive and deliver resilient, inclusive and sustainable economic growth now and for the future.
 

It aims to support regional industry as it prepares to respond to regional, national and global skills needs, and prepare the current and future workforce to embrace and maximise the impact of digital innovation on key industry sectors that have regional and national impact on economic growth.
 

Laurel Penrose, Principal and Chief Executive of Bath College said that: “Part of our strategic focus is to ensure that Bath College continues to build business links across the South West of England so this prospect is incredibly exciting. Developing these opportunities to enhance links with industry, as well as educational partners, can only benefit the region”.
 

“We have seen a sharp rise in the demand for courses in Media, I.T. and Digital Technologies recently. Couple this with the skills requirements of industry and employers the alignment to the SWIFT project provides a compelling case.”
 

Dr Paul Phillips, Principal and Chief Executive of the Weston College Group, said: “We are thrilled to have got through to this stage and recognise that this project has the potential to significantly influence skills development on both a regional and national basis.”
 

He went on to say that the next stage would now involve detailed meetings with everyone involved in the process matched by rigorous timelines and financial analysis.
 

Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Officer of the University of the West of England commented: “UWE, Bristol is delighted to be supporting a very strong bid for an Institute of Technology that engages further education partners and employers from across our region.
 

“Clearly the strength of an innovative and collaborative bid focusing on developing the skills we need for the future has captured the attention of the Government. We look forward to moving to the next stage of our application where we would hope to secure the backing of ministers.”
 

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