Published on 17/11/2021
IoT Secretary Of State Aston University


•     Secretary of State for Education visited Aston University to tour new Institute of Technology Hub

•     The Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP met with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and IoT partners to find out more about the skills opportunities for the region

•     The IoT Hub for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering for Greater Birmingham and Solihull will be opening in Spring 2022.


The Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, the Secretary of State for Education, visited Aston University in Birmingham on Wednesday 17 November.

The Secretary of State was joined by the West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, together with a delegation of learners, apprentices, employers and education partners, for a tour of the construction site of the new Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology (GBSIoT) Hub.

GBSIoT is one of 12 Institutes of Technology (IoTs) being established across England as unique collaborations between further education colleges, universities and employers to offer technical education and training at higher skills levels in key STEM sectors.

The GBSIoT is designed to create a ‘powerhouse’ for advanced manufacturing and engineering and is a collaboration between further education providers, universities and employers for the region.

The consortium is led by Solihull College & University Centre, with Aston University, Birmingham City University and South and City College Birmingham as members and supported by BMET College, University College Birmingham and the University of Birmingham as partners.

During his visit, the Secretary of State also spent some time with Tim Pile, the Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), and Saskia Loer Hansen, incoming Interim Vice-Chancellor at Aston University to discuss the partnership and opportunities for learners across the region.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “It was wonderful to visit Aston University today to see progress on the new Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology (GBSIoT) Hub, which will open up more opportunities for people to get the skills they need to get good jobs in engineering and manufacturing in the local region.

“Institutes of Technology are the pinnacle of technical training. By uniquely bringing together further education colleges, universities and businesses, they ensure people can get the skills they need to progress, and that businesses get the talented workforce they need to thrive.”

He also toured Aston University’s recently refurbished mechanical engineering spaces, met with mechanical engineering students and was introduced to the Auto-Pod, a state-of-the-art autonomous vehicle funded by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and Institute of Technology and used for research and teaching.

Saskia Loer Hansen, incoming Interim Vice-Chancellor for Aston University said: “We are a proud partner of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology and it was a pleasure to host the Secretary of State and the Mayor of the West Midlands at the site of the IoT Hub and engineering facilities on our campus today.

“Aston University has a long history of partnering with industry to deliver a much-needed technical skills, and the IoT is central to our future contribution to the region’s skills base. The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology is forging clear pathways to highly-skilled jobs and this is a testament to the power of collaboration between colleges, universities and employers.”

Carl Arntzen CEO of Worcester Bosch and Chair of GBSIoT said: “We are really pleased to welcome the Secretary of State today to see at first hand the strength of the GBSIoT partnership driving innovation in curriculum, skills and research. The GBSIoT Hub, when open in 2022, will contain Europe’s largest educational Cyber Physical Manufacturing Rig which will both drive greater innovation and inspire our young people to take full advantage of the exciting opportunities that exist in the engineering and manufacturing sector in the region.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “It was fantastic to welcome the Secretary of State for Education to the West Midlands to show off the site of what will be the phenomenal new IoT facility at Aston University.

“The West Midlands is doing some brilliant work around education and reducing a historically poor skills gap, and the two new IoTs in the region will continue to help people get the skills they need to move into quality jobs with long-term prospects.

“I know the Secretary of State is very impressed by what is planned for Aston University, and I look forward to the close working relationship he will have with the West Midlands as we work together to improve people’s life chances through education.”

Tim Pile, Chair of GBSLEP said, “ Our investment of £1.6 million pounds into the GBSIoT is testament to our core belief that business-led skills training is at the heart of inclusive economic growth and post pandemic recovery. As a stakeholder member of the GBSIoT steering group we are  ensuring that locally led evidence is shared in order to direct resources to potential areas of growth.

"Furthermore, we have begun the process of forging a strong relationship between the consortium and our GBSLEP Skills and Apprenticeship Hub to ensure that training meets the requirements of employers and businesses in order to create a tangible pipeline of talent. This is all made possible by our triple helix structure of bringing private, pubic and academic sector leaders together to make locally informed decisions for the good of our people and region.”

Professor Hanifa Shah, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment, Birmingham City University, said: “Automation has shaped manufacturing since the early 1970s and in the UK boosts economy by billions.

"The hubs cyber physical rig will enable users to keep abreast of rapid changing technologies in automation. BCU as an anchor partner of GBSIoT look forward to sharing the new facilities with current and future students, supporting the wider solution through the talent pipeline ensuring businesses can adopt new technologies aided by a skilled workforce”.

The IoT will jointly design, develop and widen education and training opportunities aligned to the latest skills needs of leading-edge employers. The IoT will deliver for the local, regional and national economy; and is a crucial element of Government’s priorities for technical education.

As well as a range of training including apprenticeships, HNCs and foundation degrees in engineering, the GBSIoT offers new in-work skills courses to help adults already in work to rapidly upskill or retrain in green areas including low carbon engineering, electrification technology and the testing and repair of electric/hybrid vehicles and components.

The Hub, which is due to open in Spring 2022 will be home to a new cyber physical manufacturing rig which will create a simulated working environment for IoT learners.

Notes to editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long-established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world. The University also has TEF Gold status in the Teaching Excellence Framework. 

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