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The Holy Grail of industrial strategy? England’s continuing search for specialist technical institutions


  • Andrew Westwood

    (University of Manchester)


This paper will consider the renewed political interest in industrial policy and its relationship to new specialist technical institutions, exploring the history and evolution of such institutions and the changes in policy that have identified, prioritised - and frequently abandoned - them. It considers the different roles of different types of ‘technical’ institution and describes how successive waves of national policy have seen the creation and ultimately the disappearance of Colleges of Advanced Technology, Polytechnics, Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs), National Skills Academies (NSAs) and National Colleges. The paper also looks at new models of institution emerging without the direct support of central government including the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield and the Warwick Manufacturing Group. All of these issues are discussed in the broader context of the UK’s new industrial strategy, regional economic development and the continuation of major interregional inequality and weak economic performance in England. Ultimately the paper asks why there has been so much institutional reinvention in policymaking and what relationship this has to poor productivity performance in English and UK Regions.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Westwood, 2018. "The Holy Grail of industrial strategy? England’s continuing search for specialist technical institutions," EKONOMIAZ. Revista vasca de Economía, Gobierno Vasco / Eusko Jaurlaritza / Basque Government, vol. 94(02), pages 132-155.
  • Handle: RePEc:ekz:ekonoz:2018208

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    More about this item


    centros politécnicos; decisión política ; instituto tecnológico; policy decision ; politechnic centres; technological institute;

    JEL classification:

    • M53 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Training
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development


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