...to power our leading industries with cutting-edge provision

The UK is known the world over for its elite research-intensive universities, but it is also home to innovative and industry-leading technical education of equally high quality.

Across the country, independent providers work hand in glove with employers and industry experts to create immersive experiential learning environments. More flexible than an apprenticeship, more hands-on than most degrees, the cutting-edge programmes from these industry specialists offer unparalleled preparation for the world of work today.

With a simple bold reform to qualifications, and investment targeted to unlock productivity gains, specialist technical institutes can power UK industry for decades to come.

The next Government should:

5. Introduce Technical Education Awarding Powers to empower a new generation of specialist institutes to become beacons of industry excellence

UK university degrees became a gold standard not by Government diktat but through excellence in scholarship emerging from independent academic communities. Industry-driven technical institutes can become equivalent beacons of excellence through a simple and familiar formula: dependable funding; institutional autonomy; and the power to design, deliver and award qualifications with professional recognition.

Today, technical institutes face bureaucratic barriers if they wish to award their own qualifications, and relying on a partner university proves cumbersome and expensive. Once entrusted with these broad new awarding powers, specialist technical institutes embedded in their industries can be far more agile in spotting emerging trends and responding to the evolving needs of employers in the modern labour market.

6. Create the conditions for investment in specialist technical education and training wherever it is needed

Talent is evenly distributed across the UK, but opportunity is not. Pockets of high-growth-potential industries are scattered across the country, but outside of London it is harder for employers to depend on a pipeline of skilled workers to power their growth.

A strengthened Unit for Future Skills should work with national, regional and local authorities to identify higher education cold spots and areas where specific industries would benefit from specialist providers who can collaborate with employers to deliver the skills they need.

Regionally allocated UK prosperity funds should seed-fund industry-specific provision. Conditions on Innovate UK grants and public sector procurement should prioritise businesses which collaborate with tertiary education. Grant funding for specialist higher education provision should be targeted towards institutions looking to scale up and drive equality of opportunity into our leading industries.

The Academy Of Live Technology (ALT)

The Academy of Live Technology is an industry-led solution to a critical education and training need – education designed by the industry, embedded in the industry.

The Academy is based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on Production Park, Europe’s first live events production community. Here, international SMEs use industry-leading talent, studios, and technology to produce and rehearse shows before they go on to entertain audiences worldwide.

The Academy was founded to address the lack of specialist education and training in entertainment production & technology. Since 2011 the Academy has partnered with the University of Bolton to offer 5 undergraduate and 4 postgraduate specialist vocational degrees to prepare new talent for careers in all aspects of live entertainment production, management and design.

Based in a region which is listed as being in the top 10% of social deprivation nationally, the Academy has partnered with Combined Authorities from West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire & Hertfordshire to meet the challenge of the growing skills deficits by running local skills bootcamps between 5 and 12 weeks long, which develop local talent for the industry. These bootcamps are critical to addressing industry skills shortages and Production Park’s plans for future growth and regional regeneration.