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Priority Industries
Provision & Business Case

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SEATS will focus on procuring education and training solutions for the following industry sector routes:
  • Data automation / AI
  • Electrical and electronic engineering
  • Logistics
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Systems engineering
Provision under the spring 2023 ITT is commencing in the 2023/24 academic year with Coventry University.
Additional industry sector routes such as leadership and management and professional skills have been added and further ITT opportunities are planned to expand the provider base and range of programmes in 2023/24. 
Prospective providers looking to submit a tender under one of our ITTs are advised to refer to the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) website.
They should ensure that they are able to offer the following to commence in the 2023/24 academic year:
  • Higher Apprenticeships from Level 4
  • Degree Apprenticeships to Level 7
Providers submitting a response to our ITTs must be currently and/or expect to be fully approved on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) at the start of the academic year in which provision commences.

Executive Summary Business Case

SEATS has been established to provide a sustainable foundation and legal entity to: 1. receive Industry investment and public funding for work-based training for south Essex residents 2. contract with third party higher education and other education and training providers to procure the delivery of workbased training in South Essex 3. contract with employers located in South Essex to design and procure skills 4. receive and apply bursaries to support south Essex residents access to employment and better career opportunities in the region. Additional general information about SEATS can be found at The Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) has worked with a number of major employers in South Essex (including Ford, DP World, Southend Airport, TEVVA Motors and Leonardo) to establish SEATS, an innovative company created to transform the current higher education offer in the sub-region, strengthen employer-led work-based learning delivery and increase the skills of local people to better meet the existing and emerging needs of business. SEATS is intended to establish a prestigious and high-quality employer-led organisation, which will facilitate the delivery of higher-level technical education and provide local residents with a clear route to high skilled employment. This initiative is designed to establish a strong collaboration between employers, further education and higher education providers, to harness industry knowledge, resource and expertise and the teaching and research experience of education, to provide a strong and clear focus on delivering enhanced higher-level technical/vocational skills programmes. SEATS will provide a leading-edge education and learning experience, including procuring use of world-class blended learning techniques, to enable students across the wide geographic area to access learning irrespective of their location, economic circumstances or work and family/social patterns. It is intended that SEATS will, amongst other education and training offerings, procure from higher and further education provider partners Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships, in conjunction with local employers, to meet local training needs in SMEs and large businesses, as well as putting in place a full-time offer across a range of sites in South Essex for those who want to study in a more traditional way. During the early years of SEATS’s operation, the curriculum offer will focus on: - Logistics - Data Automation/AI - Electrical and Electronic Engineering - System Engineering - Mechanical Engineering. The aim is to start small and scale up, with the first learners being trained from September 2023. Initial projected learner numbers in the first year are projected to be between 60 and 100 ‘in-work learners’ that would be employed by one or more of the main sponsoring employers, through a range of Level 4-7 Higher and Degree apprenticeship provision. In developing the overall proposition for SEATS, public and private sector partners in the area have worked with a range of other important stakeholders to commission both a Feasibility Study and a Full Business Case (FBC). The Full Business Case identified that the most effective route to deliver the planned provision was to aggregate employer demand and draw an existing HE provider (or providers) into the area to deliver this provision. SEATS is therefore not looking to establish a new public or private university, but to work with one or more established higher education providers, with a bespoke presence in South Essex through a new operating company (SEATS). It is intended that SEATS will become financially self-sufficient when a cohort of 430 apprentices and students has been recruited. From financial modelling, this ensures SEATS becomes financially self-sustaining in 2030/31. With a working assumption that the Thames Freeport will provide financial support in the initial stages of the project, the approximate level of financial support which will be required, is a grant of just over £800k and a working capital loan of some £40,000. Not all of this is required at the start of operations. SEATS requires grant funding of £240,000 to commence full operations in 2023/24 and launch the Invitation to Tender for Higher Education partner(s) in March 2023, in order to commence training delivery from September 2023. The financial model for SEATS concludes that SEATS may embark on the second strand of activity- launching full degree and wider programmes- if it secures grant funding of £190k for their financial year 2024/25. Consultation with initiating businesses that will be the founder members of SEATS (Ford, Southend Airport and DP World) and other local employers, including Leonardo and Tevva, have confirmed the required number of trainees and training requirements for each respective employer, in order to ensure a viable and required cohort of learners to initiate work-based training operations in September 2023.

The development of SEATS stems from work over the last 2 years to develop a technical university concept for South Essex. The full business case and other materials supporting the SEATS ITT provide further details on the background.

A series of short videos have been produced featuring a number of the key employers and organisations committed to establishing an advanced technical skills solution for South Essex. These are provided below for information and background context to the ITT.

SEATS Press Release
10th July 2023 - ASELA REF: PR8116

Coventry University Group secured for new South Essex Advanced Technical Skills (SEATS) training brokerage Release issued on behalf of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities. Private sector led SEATS project will increase the skills of local residents by introducing new employer-led work-based training opportunities. A collaboration between DP World, Ford Motor Company, London Southend Airport and the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) has secured the first higher education collaborator for a new advanced technical skills training matchmaking organisation. The South Essex Advanced Technical Skills (SEATS) project will grow the workforce of the future by providing new specialist training - in engineering, managerial development, logistics and digital - skills which are much needed by businesses and employers in South Essex. SEATS has secured its first service contract for higher education provision with Coventry University, which will allow its first learners to start their work-based training this autumn. It has been designed as a collective, industry-based training collaboration. It will act as a matchmaker, bringing together employers in order to capitalise on their collective training requirements and offer a bespoke presence in South Essex. By joining forces with other locally based companies, ASELA and the founding organisations of SEATS have been able to share resources and scale their ambition to bring University partners to South Essex, ultimately leading to a higher skilled workforce and more prosperous communities. SEATS’ three founding Directors are Ford Motor Company, DP World and London Southend Airport, with ASELA providing practical support. More businesses are also joining the growing training body. John Tabor, Business Operations Manager at Ford Motor Company and Chair of SEATS Board, said: “Securing a contract with Coventry University is a significant milestone for SEATS, allowing training to get underway this year and therefore helping to meet the requirements of local businesses and close long-standing skills gaps in South Essex. “We are extremely grateful to ASELA for funding to initiate the project and administering the creation of this innovative bespoke training matchmaking service and would also thank Thames Freeport for its support and providing a grant to support the first year of training for Essex residents.” Rt Hon Ruth Kelly, Chair, Thames Freeport Governing Board, said: “A key objective for Thames Freeport is creating employment opportunities for local people. I am delighted that this initiative, with its focus on technical skills for the future, is underway.” Coventry University Provost Ian Dunn said: “We are delighted to join this project in order to help address the skills gaps in South Essex. “Coventry University Group is already educating students from the north to the south of the country, as well as in more than 40 countries around the world. We passionately believe our high-quality education can deliver a real impact for communities and businesses in South Essex.” Led by the private sector, SEATS will support businesses to improve their productivity through reskilling and upskilling their workforce. Once operational, it will provide a pipeline of local skilled labour to facilitate business growth and new inward investment into South Essex, spreading opportunities and supporting the levelling up of the area. SEATS will work to promote these local career opportunities in schools, colleges and with other providers, ensuring long term viability and growth. The creation of an advanced technical skills body is a pioneer project of the ASELA Growth and Recovery Prospectus. Scott Logan, ASELA CEO Lead, said: “I am extremely proud that this unique concept, first put forward by ASELA in 2019, has achieved this important milestone, and pleased that Coventry University has recognised the importance of the challenge we face here in South Essex. “It is testament to the dedication of public and private sector partners working together – building strong relationships over the last four years to create something truly innovative to tackle the regional skills gap together. By doing so we have been able to bring forward new opportunities that will benefit the people of South Essex for generations to come. “I am grateful to the organisations involved for their support and their ongoing commitment to South Essex.” Cllr Kevin Bentley, Leader of Essex County Council and ASELA Lead for Economy, Skills and Jobs, said: “The SEATS project will help transform the higher education offer in South Essex, boosting local residents’ skills and enabling employers to deliver training within Essex, rather than relying on outside universities and providers. “This collective approach to training is innovative and will support the economic prosperity of the area. “We hope to increase the level of funding and the opportunities to influence how we invest in skills provision further by securing a devolution deal for Greater Essex, which will in turn allow us to launch innovative skills programmes that are tailor made for the needs of the county.” The SEATS project is now live and eager to engage with businesses in the region. Find out more SEATS and how you can access technical training at ENDS Notes to editors: Courses are set to start from autumn 2023 initially focussed on degree and higher level apprenticeships, with an expansion into intermediate and advantaged apprenticeships, degrees and short course Continuing Professional Development opportunities expected at a later date. Up to 100 in-work learners are set to be in place from September, with this being scaled up as the project grows. These learners will be employed by one of the main sponsor employers, which have already identified their training requirements. About ASELA: The Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) is a partnership of the councils of Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock and Essex County. Through ASELA the councils are working to deliver improved prosperity and wellbeing in the region by: tackling problems that members councils can’t solve individually creating collective scale and impact providing the place leadership to promote South Essex. Each partner council contributes resources to the ASELA programmes and together they work to win new investment for the region from central government, the private sector and public partners.

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