University’s significant investment set to grow industrial skills and jobs in the county

University’s significant investment set to grow industrial skills and jobs in the county

The University of Cumbria has successfully won a share of £6.1 million to develop new courses to teach the skills of the future in Cumbria.

The university is one of over 30 universities and colleges in England to be awarded a share of the fund by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to develop a new and enhanced higher education modular programme. Working with employers, the modules will help provide the skills needed in the future economy and support the aims of the government’s industrial strategy.

The university will use its £200,000 to develop a new postgraduate programme - MSc Industrial Skills.

The investment will help to enhance graduate outcomes and employability, and upskill the local workforce - providing the key skills that regional industry and employers will need and contributing to UK productivity in the longer term.

Professor Andy Gale is the University of Cumbria’s Director of Industrial Strategy, Professional Development and Skills. Since taking up the role in July last year, he has been busy developing closer ties with industry and expanding the university’s offer in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths.

“This is brilliant news. This project will enable us to work closely with industrial partners to develop meaningful, flexible, modular education to enhance industrial skills. This aligns well with Britain’s Industrial Strategy and the university’s commitment to the region” he said.

The MSc Industrial Skills complements another programme the university is developing - MSc Engineering Management. The two programmes will provide graduates in science, engineering and public service with the skills to thrive and add value in the workplace. The courses will include management, leadership, project management, problem solving methodologies and commercial skills, together with specialist modules to deepen understanding in chosen specialisms.

The aim is to bridge the gap between knowledge and skills at undergraduate level and those required by employers for graduates to progress in their careers. In order to do this, the university will design the courses with significant input from regional employers and professional bodies to meet the sector’s needs and to give them ownership.

Commenting on what it means for the local economy, Craig Ivison of the Local Enterprise Network said,

“The MSc is an example of the vibrant skills sector in Cumbria working closely with employers to meet their skills needs.  As a flexible programme of learning that can be applied to a number of sectors, this qualification helps to address a number of skills gaps faced by employers across the county such as leadership and project management, and will prepare participants for many challenges in the diverse Cumbrian economy.”

The development of the new MSc programmes will be done in three phases starting with employer consultations from January 2018 with the view of delivering the first modules from the MSc Industrial Skills course in September 2019.

The HEFCE funding will develop the MSc in Industrial Skills, while funding from the Sir John Fisher Foundation will develop the MSc Engineering Management, for which development started a year earlier.

The full list of projects funded under this programme is available at www.hefce.ac.uk/funding/catalyst/futureskills.