The new South Central Institute of Technology (SCIoT) in Bletchley provides courses specifically designed to equip students with the technical and digital skills to meet the current needs of businesses in Milton Keynes and beyond. This is the final part of our trilogy of features on the exciting project led by Milton Keynes College…
Businesses in Milton Keynes are struggling, as they are all over the country, to recruit people with strong technical or digital skills.
That’s where the new South Central Institute for Technology (SCIoT) in Bletchley comes in. The SCIoT is providing courses specifically to meet that demand by training the people needed.
Because the curriculum is largely shaped by local companies, its students are guaranteed to learn the skills businesses actually need.
The SCIoT consortium, led by Milton Keynes College, landed a grant of £24million from the Department for Education in a national competition – the largest sum awarded to any Institute of Technology reflecting its importance to the city and the wider region.
Consortium partners include global companies like Microsoft, McAfee and KPMG and important local brands like Cranfield University and CCL Evidence Talks.
It will enrol a thousand students and apprentices a year onto new digital courses and is the only place in Milton Keynes offering higher technical qualifications equivalent to university level, as well as short courses.
Principal, Alex Warner said: “This is a whole new concept for education in Britain. The SCIoT is an inclusive centre for technical qualifications, higher apprenticeships and training to plug the growing gap between demand and supply for key technical and digital roles, including cyber security.
“Students can choose to complete their studies in person, blended, or online as part of our Lifestyle Learning approach.
“They’ll be taught by amazing people with up-to-date experience in tech businesses and they’ll work on real world problems supplied by our partners.
“This a real joint effort by business and education to train people for the careers of the future.”
Half the staff are what’s known as dual professionals – people already working for the project partners and local businesses who are as up-to-date as they could be in terms of the knowledge they’re passing on to students.
“Local businesses can get involved in so many ways here,” Alex said. “Business people are already helping to decide exactly what should be studied and putting forward their own real problems as projects for students to work on.
“We’re always looking for guest lecturers and mentors from local companies and they don’t need to be teachers, just know what they want and the skills that matter.
“The SCIoT is all about creating talent pipelines feeding directly into the local and regional economy.
“We’ve already designed new courses with our partners and there are things people can study here today which just aren’t available anywhere else in the country.”
Another unique feature of the SCIoT is its plan to ensure that the people studying reflect the community of Milton Keynes and the wider area it serves.
The SCIoT operates an EDI (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) Steering Group and is already making progress
in attracting students from harder-to-reach groups.
Of students already recruited, 52% are from a Black, Asian, or Ethnic Minority background, 37% are disabled or neurodiverse, while 22% are female.