South Essex Technical University

South Essex is a major economy and destination, similar in size to the West of England, North of Tyne or Tees Valley combined authority areas

It is home to 32,000 businesses providing more than 354,000 jobs, and a population of around 800,000, South Essex is a major economy.

While it punches well above its weight when it comes to contributing to the national economy, innovation and growth, there is no doubt that South Essex has been under-invested in for decades.

Skills shortages and skills gaps in the region are greater than the national averages. Too many people in South Essex lack the skills needed, particularly at higher levels, for rewarding, productive employment. Major employers in South Essex are struggling to fill vacancies due to skills shortages, particularly in high and middle skills occupations.

The demand for skilled workers in the region will only intensify with the impact of initiatives like the Thames Freeport and large-scale infrastructure, housing and population growth.

The seven South Essex councils that make up the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) are working with employers and education providers on a joined-up approach to ensure that local people, and new residents, are equipped with the skills that employers and future investors need now and into the future. It is clear to all there is clear space in the higher education market in South Essex for a new provider of higher-level technical education to help meet these skills shortages and skills gaps.

That's why ASELA is helping create a new technical university.

This new technical university will focus on degrees, degree-level apprenticeships and short course CPD in highly vocational subjects – notably mechanical, electrical, and software engineering, automation, logistics, management and leadership. Courses will start in September 2023 serving a small cohort of business-sponsored learners drawn from large firms and their supply chains. Learners from the wider business community will start in September 2024 and individual self-sponsored students in September 2025. Many of the individual self-sponsored learners will be from disadvantaged backgrounds supported by local bursaries.

The courses will be delivered through a subsidiary of an existing HE provider. This offers the flexibility and low-cost base needed to establish a higher education presence quickly and effectively.

The technical university is employer-led and focused.

It will have a strong commitment to supporting inclusive growth and improving life chances of South Essex residents. Five major businesses – Ford, Southend Airport, Leonardo, DP World and Olympus – have been instrumental in building the case for the technical university and are represented on the Partnership Board.

The technical university will:

  • support local business to address current and future technical skills gaps and skill shortages
  • improve the employability of South Essex workers
  • help retain existing business and attract new employers and new talent to South Essex.

There is exceptionally strong alignment between this proposal for a new Technical University to serve South Essex and the aims of the Levelling up White Paper. The Levelling Up White Paper says that “improving productivity, and spreading prosperity, crucially depends on enhancing people’s education and skills” and adds that it “…will aim to put local employers at the heart of skills provision.”

The existing Partnership Board will become the new Operating Company, Limited by Guarantee with Charitable Status. The operating company will procure the HE provider to deliver the courses. A new Board of Trustees will be the Operating Company’s governing body. Employer interests will be represented by an Advisory Council.

Become a business supporter of South Essex Technical University

Get in touch if you want to be part of this exciting project. By becoming a business supporter you can:

  • help shape the course programme of the technical university so it best meets the needs of your business
  • sponsor students, handpicked by you, to learn the skills your business needs to compete and thrive
  • employ students who can contribute to your business growth and future success
  • back an innovative approach to ensure vital technical skills are sustained long into the future.