10th February Journal Column

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Last month, the Prime Minister, Theresa May announced a £170m investment in new institutes of technology, to boost the skills of 16 to 24 year olds as part of a new Modern Industrial Strategy. We’re constantly asking for more effort to be put into training and encouraging young people in to the industry, so it’s good to know that it’s part of the Prime Minister’s plan for post-Brexit Britain.
As we leave the EU, it’s important that we make our country one of the most competitive places to start and grow a business. We need to create a high-skilled economy, so that Britain stands tall, so we must improve skills and opportunities so we can close the gap between the best people, places and businesses.

The £170m for overhauling technical education is to be spent on setting up institutes of technology teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM subjects). There will also be a reform of technical qualifications, a university-style application system for courses, specialist maths schools and action to tackle skills shortages. For a long time, technical education for school leavers has been neglected, with large differences in skill levels between regions and it’s time that finally changed.

The new technical colleges will give young people that want to pursue a technical career the same opportunities and respect given to those who go to university, and it means that overall, young people are being provided with more options to choose from after school. It is all part of the PM’s bigger plan to shake up technical education, ensuring young people develop the skills they need to do highly paid and high-skilled jobs.
Following the announcement of the industrial strategy, apprenticeship and skills minister, Robert Halfon MP visited Gateshead College. The plan is to have a full revamp of technical education, and the minister hopes the new strategy will lead to more institutions across the country following the lead of the College. It’s so important that we can offer young people every possible opportunity. There are plenty of options for those that want to take that academic route, but we must also cater for those who would prefer another route. The government’s long-term goal is to raise the position of skills and technical education as something as a prestigious as going to university. It’s very promising to hear that the North East is already ahead of the game in terms of technical education and colleges – well done us!

The Construction Industry Council, Constructing Excellence and partners are holding the North East’s Construction Summit on Tuesday 11 May, where the new Modern Industrial Strategy will be discussed in more detail. For more information on the summit, contact Leanne McAngus on 0191 500 7880 or email leanne@cene.org.uk.