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Academy to embrace Biotechnology and Composites sectors
26 Jan 2011

National Skills Academy Process Industries to embrace Biotechnology and Composites sectors: first Centre of Excellence announced.

Confirmation of Government approval for the National Skills Academy Process Industries’ bid to extend its scope was received today from BIS (the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills).

The unique development will see the Academy extend its remit to cover two new dynamic sectors - biotechnology and composites - making it the first National Skills Academy to receive an extension to its industry coverage.

Skills Minister John Hayes said:

“Composites and biotechnology are highly competitive sectors around the world and both are poised for substantial growth. If we want to secure that growth and investment in the UK, it's vital that we can provide a highly skilled workforce. The Academy will bring government agencies, education providers and employers together, delivering world class training to keep Britain on the cutting edge of technological progress.”

Welcoming the announcement, Phil Jones, Academy CEO said:

“On behalf of the employers in these fast emerging sectors, we’d like to express our delight with today’s announcement. We’ve been very busy since March 2010 when we found out that our preliminary bid had been successful, gaining the support of biotechnology and composites employers, and we’re very energized about delivering programmes for our two new sectors.”

“This is a very important announcement reflecting the Government’s drive to invest in skills to allow these critical parts of the UK economy to bring in new talent, to upskill, boost productivity and compete globally. We’d like to thank all the industrialists, trade bodies and stakeholders who have been incredibly supportive in developing the business plan.”

The Academy will work with Semta (Sector Skills Council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies) on areas of common interest in the composites industry to best meet the needs of employers. This approach is designed to increase the Academy’s effectiveness and reduce the confusion for employers on areas that may ‘overlap’.

The Academy will deliver training to these sectors through a network of Academy Accredited Training Providers. Over three years this is expected to grow to around 30 of the highest quality training providers in the UK. The first of these, City and Islington College, has been confirmed as a Centre of Excellence in Biotechnology for the Academy.

Daniel Norris, Deputy Director for Innovation at City and Islington College's Centre for Applied Sciences said:

“We believe that City and Islington College and the Academy’s extension will help to meet the skills shortages in new emerging technologies which will become increasingly important for Britain’s economic recovery and for our future global competitiveness. Biotechnology is a prime example of the sort of advanced manufacturing technology, which will transform strategically important industries such as pharmaceuticals and biomedical materials. We welcome the opportunity to work with Cogent and the Academy to create sustainable employment for young people in this exciting new area.”

The Academy is a subsidiary of Cogent, the Sector Skills Council for the science-based industries. Joanna Woolf, Cogent CEO said: “This is great news for employers who can now be confident that the education and training provision they need to meet their ambition in these strategic growth sectors is quality assured, fit-for-purpose and built upon Cogent employer-driven standards.”

More about the extension
Biotechnology and composites employers have identified a significant lack of provision and they have a need for new provision that demonstrates speed of response and meets their needs. The Academy will achieve this, through short courses and high levels of blended learning, incorporating e-learning.

In addition to training products, the Academy will broker access to specialists and to demonstration facilities in Universities, Colleges, and commercial research centres. Building on the current success, the Academy will:

  • Engage with employers both directly and through stakeholder organisations reaching the wider industry, particularly the SME community
  • Identify and develop providers within networks, enabling the development of their capability as Academy Centres and Centres of Excellence able to meet the enhanced demands of employers
  • Develop, through Cogent, Industry-led training standards which underpin the development of all Academy products and their delivery
  • Source and develop training courses, products and delivery materials validated against the standards and delivered by accredited providers

The Academy will continue to be industry led, and programmes will be developed only in response to employer demand, co-produced by employers where possible. There will be a clear interface with those recognised professional qualification systems that lead to professional accreditation.
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