FE College spearheads development of world-class skills centre with HORIBA MIRA

A project bringing together some of the top educational institutions in the Midlands with a leading automotive technology park and enterprise zone to address a future skills gap is one step closer to opening as building work started this week. The project will see a £9.5m skills centre open on the MIRA Technology Park site next year.

MIRA Technology Institute (MTI) will develop specialist skills for the global automotive industry. It is a unique partnership between HORIBA MIRA and lead partner, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, along with Coventry UniversityLoughborough University and the University of Leicester.

The MIRA Technology Institute (MTI) is being created to help to satisfy the ever-increasing demand for specialist skills in the automotive sector – an issue that the UK has to solve to ensure the automotive sector continues to prosper. In particular, MTI - which is set to open in September 2018 - will help to create specialist skills in some of the new disruptive technology areas such as electrification and driverless car technologies, ensuring a sustainable supply of future technical specialists and engineers.

The development of the MTI follows research by the Leicester & Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) to identify future skills needs. MIRA Technology Park, as a developing Enterprise Zone, focuses on auto sector R&D and - in the post-recession automotive renaissance in the UK - the demand for specialist technical skills has risen sharply as successful vehicle manufacturers and their supply chains have geared up for expansion and growth, while the supply of the specialist skills required has lagged behind. MTI offers a unique solution aligned with the government’s new Industrial Strategy Green Paper by creating a sector-focused institute of technology. It is being funded with £9.5m from the Leicester and Leicestershire LEP Growth Deal Fund and is backed by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Developing talented apprentices right through to qualified engineers, the MTI will bridge the skills gap across the automotive sector with relevant expertise and qualifications, providing students and apprentices with a ‘ladder of opportunity’ up to level 8 (PhD level).

Marion Plant OBE, Principal and Chief Executive of North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, said: “The MIRA Technology Institute provides a real opportunity to transform the skills supply, particularly at high levels, to the automotive industry. This will include a focus on the skills for the new disruptive technology areas including autonomous, connected, electric and shared (ACES) vehicle technologies. It has the ability to secure a real ‘step change’ in the future productivity of the industry locally, regionally and globally. I firmly believe MTI represents the future of technical and skills training for the UK in line with the industrial strategy.”

George Gillespie OBE, CEO at HORIBA MIRA, said: “The MIRA Technology Institute is a unique solution that has been created to address a very real problem the UK automotive sector is facing. Importantly, it is well aligned with the government’s new Industrial Strategy. It will be a huge asset to MIRA Technology Park but we hope its benefits will be felt throughout the UK auto sector and beyond.”

Marion added: “I am delighted the ‘dream’ the College had to create an institute delivering higher level skills training is coming to fruition with the commencement of the building phase. As the lead partner, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College have been instrumental in the project design and delivery and we are thrilled with the rapid progress now being made.

“Our thanks to the LLEP and the Department for BEIS in supporting this vital project for our region. It is a leading model that could easily be extended to other sectors.”

Nick Pulley, Chair of the LLEP, said: “The LLEP’s Local Growth Fund has been extremely successful fr the Leicester and Leicestershire area. We are all very excited about the new MIRA Technology Institute which will open for students next September. This is a great investment and will see an outstanding 2,500 training places each year.”