West Midlands unis collaborate to boost skills

1 min read

Three West Midlands universities are joining forces in a bid to put higher education at the centre of the drive for economic growth.

Birmingham City University, Coventry University and the University of Wolverhampton have launched the West Midlands Combined Universities (WMCU) initiative, a partnership which brings together the institutions' applied research and training expertise, including manufacturing, to develop skills and foster innovation across the region.

The link-up of three like-minded universities will provide the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) with a resource with which it can meet objectives around skills, employment opportunities and productivity, including the creation of more than 500,000 jobs by 2030 and a targeted rate of growth to match that of the London economy.

The WMCU will also support the devolved body's stated priority of tackling a significant shortage of lower and higher end skills – particularly in the health and advanced manufacturing sectors – in a renewed effort to address the high level of unemployment (9.3%) across the region's seven metropolitan authorities.

Among other things, leaders of the three universities anticipate that the WMCU will be able to close the skills gap in the automotive sector by working with local businesses to provide higher apprenticeships alongside existing degree programmes.

Professor John Latham, vice-chancellor of Coventry University, said: “Health, advanced manufacturing and associated supply chains are just a few of the sectors which will benefit from our institutions' collective drive to educate more local young people, upskill more local workforces and engage more deeply with local employers to support innovation and meet their specialist training needs.”