Why inclusion is at the heart of the South Central Institute of Technology

The new South Central Institute of Technology (SCIoT) has opened with a host of digital courses that you can choose to study in person, blended or online. In the second instalment of our three-part look at the exciting new centre in Bletchley, we explore its firm commitment to diversity among learners…

The new South Central Institute of Technology (SCIoT) at Bletchley is committed to reflecting the wonderful diversity
of the people of Milton Keynes as near perfectly as possible.

The SCIoT will be keeping a close eye on who the learners it recruits are, to make sure this pledge is met. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the best thing to do to ensure success in providing that pipeline of digital talent the region so desperately needs.

The tech sector struggles to engage enough qualified people to fill the jobs already available, partly due to the fact that it hasn’t previously managed to appeal to a wide enough cross-section of the potential workforce.

With the number of digital job roles only set to keep growing, it is now more important than ever that no group or community is left out.

Research by the Chartered Institute for IT (BCS) found that only 19% of UK IT professionals are women and only 10% of
sixth form students taking A Level Computer Studies are female.

While 14% of the UK working population is from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background, only 8.5% of senior leaders come from those communities.

19% of the nation’s workforce has a disability but fewer than half that proportion are IT specialists.

This matters, because there are 600,000 unfilled job vacancies in digital technology across the country. Leaving them unfilled costs the country £63 billion per year. It’s a crisis striking at the heart of our economy.

The SCIoT has been launched by Milton Keynes College in collaboration with some of the world’s biggest companies including Microsoft, McAfee and KPMG as well as important local businesses like Cranfield University, Activate Learning and CCL Evidence Talks.

It’s one of the first wave of Institutes of Technology funded by government in an attempt to fill those jobs.

Alex Warner, Principal of the SCIoT, said: “It is by design that ‘Inclusion’ is the number one value of the SCIoT. In everything we do we want to look through a lens committed to widening access and participation and this includes everyone.

“By everyone we mean our students, our staff and the community we serve. We want all to know that at the SCIoT they belong, and they matter.”

The Bletchley campus, which also has satellite sites in Oxford and Reading, has set up an EDI (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) Steering Group to make it more accessible to diverse local communities.

Of students already recruited, 52% are from a Black, Asian, or other Ethnic Minority background, 37% are disabled or neurodiverse, while 22% are female.

The SCIoT is offering courses in a wide variety of different disciplines including some which cannot be studied anywhere else in the country.

There are opportunities including apprenticeships in data, networking, cyber security, games and animation
and a range of short courses to boost skills.

Alex said: “Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, if you think a career in digital might be for you, we want to hear from you.”

For more information, please visit southcentraliot.ac.uk, call 01908 684444 or email iot@mkcollege.ac.uk for more information

This feature was published in the August/September 2021 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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