Employers in and around Peterborough are being surveyed on what sorts of courses and skills they want to see as part of ongoing plans to develop the University of Peterborough.
Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer has written to ten of the biggest businesses in the city, asking for their feedback, while a further 150-200 firms will also be invited to complete the survey.
Mayor Palmer said to survey reflects that this will be a different kind of university, which is rooted to the needs of the local economy, and that engagement with employers in this way will be running thread in its development.
The vision for the University is to be a trailblazer for other higher education institutions by embedding advanced technical learning within the curriculum. The aim is for the University to provide both the skills that local businesses urgently need, while also giving young people better access to well-paid, secure jobs and improved career prospects.
This approach is also anticipated to better attract students to the University, particularly when debt and job prospects are now under increased scrutiny by prospective students.
Peterborough is a known cold spot for higher education provision, with only 23 per cent of its residents holding a Level 4 qualification or above.
The survey will ask employers a range of questions including input on the curriculum, key courses they would like to see offered, and feedback on how that education is delivered, for example work-based learning through higher level apprenticeship routes, two-year accelerated degrees and industry placement opportunities.
The survey will also ask businesses what kinds of skills are anticipated to be in increased demand in the future.
The survey outcomes will form the bases of 'soft market testing' to develop curriculum offer at the new university. The survey will ensure that local businesses have the chance to truly shape the University from the development stages. The findings will form the basis of the business case within the Outline Business Case and the results will be included in the brief for the selection proves of the higher education partner for the University project.
The survey is being carried out by economic development company Opportunity Peterborough.
Mayor James Palmer said:
"For the University of Peterborough to deliver on its ambition to be aligned with the needs of the local economy, we need to ensure we are reaching out to the business community to see what their demands and skills challenges are.
"The Combined Authority and its partners want the University to be turning out the kinds of skills that will allow our young people to hit the ground running in the 21st Century workplace. We know our economy has significant skills shortages, and a productivity gap, and so the input of local employers will be crucial in shaping the future of the University.
"This survey is just a part of the ongoing dialogue we need to have, but I think it is an example of what an exciting, pioneering project this is, that has the potential to be real trailblazer in what higher education can offer in the modern world."
The next steps for the University will be the development of an online business case, which is scheduled to be completed in Autumn 2019. The selection proves for a preferred higher education partner is also scheduled to start in early summer 2019.