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Dudley, Institute of Technology development gets green light

A bid led by Dudley College of Technology to re-develop a plot of land close to Dudley Town centre, by developing an Institute of Technology (IoT) on the site has received the go ahead from the Department for Education.

The proposal to establish an IoT as part of the creation of an Innovation Park in Dudley beat off strong competition from across the educational sector to get the go-ahead, as one of only a small group of approved bidders. The proposal now moves to the second stage of development before it is finally signed off by government and building can begin. Other successful bids included proposals led by Solihull College and a bid from North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College. The success of West Midlands colleges is seen as a reflection of the quality of provision regionally and the fact the Further Education system is meeting the training needs of the regional economy.

The £30 million IoT development will provide a teaching and research environment for higher level skills programmes in sectors where there are high levels of skills shortages and therefore employment opportunities including in advanced manufacturing, modern construction methodologies and medical engineering.

Commenting on the good news Lowell Williams: Chief Executive Officer, Dudley College of Technology and Chair of the Board of Dudley Academies Trust said: “I believe the proposal to create an Institute of Technology at the heart of Dudley is an ambitious vision whose time has come. I felt we had a very strong bid and I’m delighted we have been selected to take our proposal forward. Developing a technically skilled workforce and providing an even wider range of career pathways for the people of Dudley is what this bid is all about. The fact that other regional colleges have been successful too is particularly pleasing and it looks like FE colleges in the West Midlands are leading a renaissance in technical education. ”

In thanking partners who supported the bid including The University of Wolverhampton, Thomas Dudley, Fulcro and Dudley NHS, Lowell commented: “One of the great strengths of this proposal is the degree of collaboration involved. The IoT will bring together the further and higher education sectors, alongside local employers to shape and design what goes on in the Institute, in this way we will make sure we provide training that responds to the region’s STEM skills gap.”

Dudley MP Ian Austin also welcomed the news saying: “Further investment in Dudley and the wider region, is always welcome. I’m backing this bid all the way. Well done Dudley College.”

The Innovation Park will bring together a number of initiatives that would cluster research and innovation centres together including The Very Light Rail Innovation Centre (VLR), alongside the IoT. The development is proposed to be sited in the gateway between the Black Country Living Museum and Dudley Zoo.

The second stage of the process to secure final go-ahead for the project will begin from July 2018 with ultimate decisions and government backing expected by the end of the year.