July 2023

Executive Dean presents research on improving regional skills gaps to Princess Anne

By Carrie Mok

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Rosa Wells, Executive Dean of the School of Engineering, Digital and Sustainable Construction at the University, recently presented research and outcomes around improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educational access for students with non-traditional qualifications to HRH, The Princess Royal.

Highlighting the support and access needed for the ‘missing middle’, the research focused on learners who are beyond school-leavers in terms of the specialist skill development needed for high-level expertise (who might have already achieved A-levels or T levels), but prior to studying further specialist knowledge (such as with a bachelor’s degree or Level 6). 

The research aimed to inform the initial assessment of the individual, increase retention and enable progress to higher levels of study.

Delivered with funding from The Technical Teaching Fellowship programme (in partnership between the Education and Training Foundation and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851), Rosa presented the research at a special reception hosted by Princess Anne. 

"I was delighted to receive an invitation to present my Technical Teaching Fellowship research to HRH, The Princess Royal,” said Rosa. “The Fellowship provides further education with a platform to raise the profile of the research that is undertaken within the sector, to highlight the benefit impact we have on raising aspiration and supporting our learners into successful careers and future studies.”

Photo: Theodore Wood Photography

As part of the research, a digital tool was launched with the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Institute of Technology (GBSIoT). By placing emphasis on interactivity and presenting concise information from ambassadors that represents the learner themselves, the tool initially assesses the learner, followed by leading them to the various pathways available.

Over time, the tool also tracks success by detailing the learner’s progress and their engagement with their course, which will enable practitioners to assess retention and provide tailored support to learners. 

Developed in collaboration with regional institutions and employers, the tool enables the sector to improve progression within STEM for learners from underrepresented groups and remove barriers to progression and upskilling. 

Rosa added: “I am really excited to see how this will benefit learners and to start evaluating the impact of our regional approach through University College Birmingham's partnership with Greater Birmingham & Solihull Institute of Technology, addressing the skills gap within the region for employers and enabling a more enriched learning experience for all learners."

Find out more about our Engineering courses delivered in partnership with the GBSIoT in our School of Engineering, Digital and Sustainable Construction.

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