Coventry University’s Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the University Alliance mission group has responded to concerns that MPs have expressed about the government’s proposed industrial strategy.
Professor John Latham, who gave evidence to the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee ahead of the strategy’s launch in January, believes that universities are perfectly positioned to support plans to deliver the hoped for high-skilled economy of the future.
The industrial strategy green paper is based around 10 pillars of economic growth which are now open to consultation. But despite claims about the strategy representing an ambitious long-term vision for the UK, the Committee has warned that proposals set out so far have failed to match promises addressing weaknesses in the UK’s skills base.
Professor Latham said:
“What is true is that in every region of the UK we already have some precious assets which can turn the industrial strategy into jobs and prosperity. They are called universities.
“We are where academia, teaching and industry meet. The strategy’s emphasis on regional devolution is also a challenge to universities to tailor their expertise to meet local and regional demands. Business and industry want ‘near-market’ work – innovation with more immediate results.
“So we need more places where business can join with experts and students to improve an existing essential product (an exhaust pipe, for example) and make it even better (lighter, stronger and more economical). This is what Coventry has achieved by working with Unipart, to create a ‘faculty on the factory floor’.”
To help address regional economic challenges Coventry University has joined forces with Birmingham City University and the University of Wolverhampton to create the West Midlands Combined Universities. The group has been set up to support the new devolved authority to drive productivity through transformative research, focused skills development, and knowledge transfer.