University of Birmingham launches new college


By Howard Smith

17 May 2021

As part of the University, a new National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure aims to produce a new generation of skilled professionals to lead Britain’s future rail, transport and infrastructure workforce.

Image: NCATI Principal, Ian Fitzpatrick (left) and University of Birmingham's Professor Tim Jones.

The University of Birmingham is launching the new National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure (NCATI) in a special collaboration between higher and further education. NCATI is expected to draw on the University’s internationally-recognised rail expertise and, with strong industry and a wide range of partners, will help address the sector’s skills gaps in the Midlands and the North.

Professor Tim Jones, Provost and Vice-Principal at the University of Birmingham, said, “Our collaboration with NCATI is a unique project, which the University of Birmingham is particularly well-placed to deliver. We’re looking forward to securing a bright new future for learners, industry partners and local communities, using our internationally-recognised expertise in railway education to deliver the next generation of skilled workers into the sector.”

The University has worked with the Department for Education to secure what it hopes will be a successful, sustainable and inclusive future for the College. New Principal, Ian Fitzpatrick, has been appointed to lead the College in its mission to be world-class in the provision of national education outcomes in the rail, transport and infrastructure sectors.

Ian said, “I’m extremely proud to be joining NCATI and to have the opportunity to work with a great team on its next phase. I am looking forward to continuing to build the reputation of the College so that it is the focal point for skills development in the sector, as well as creating and delivering an innovative high-quality provision that is ambitious and inclusive. I'm excited to start supporting our learners to reach their full potential and fulfilling the needs of employers and stakeholders.”

At state-of-the-art campuses in Birmingham and Doncaster, the new NCATI will provide high-quality education and training with a distinctive local offering that specialises in Railway and Transportation Engineering. In addition, a hub and spoke model will see NCATI collaborating with education partners around the UK, ensuring it plays its role as a National College. Apprenticeships will be a fundamental part of the NCATI curriculum moving forward.

The NCATI has been accepted onto the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers and is preparing for new apprentices to join the College in the coming months. Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan said, “It is fantastic to have agreed a new partnership between the University of Birmingham and the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure. This partnership protects opportunities for apprentices, tackles skills gaps across the region and initiates an exciting collaboration between Further Education and Higher Education, delivering high-level technical skills in an important sector of the UK economy.

By developing impactful collaborations with education providers, employers and industry bodies, NCATI hopes to become established as an integral part of the Government’s transport, infrastructure and broader industrial strategy. The need for a highly-skilled workforce to deliver the Government’s programme of transport infrastructure investment was highlighted in its most recent Transport Infrastructure and Skills Strategy.

HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson said, “The new National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure will provide valuable training, new skills and real opportunities for people entering the sector for the first time, as well as those seeking to retrain. We will continue to work closely with the College as it strives to attract a diverse range of talent to the transport sector."

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chair of Network Rail, added, “We very much welcome the collaboration between the new NCATI and the University of Birmingham and look forward to supporting the college as it develops the next generation of skilled workers.”

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