Gillian Keegan, the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills made a special appearance at the virtual launch event to mark the official opening of the South Central Institute of Technology (SCIoT) at Bletchley, calling it “vital” for closing the region’s skills gap.
The SCIoT has been established by Milton Keynes College in partnership with some of the world’s biggest companies including Microsoft, McAfee and KPMG and flourishing local concerns like Cranfield University and CCL Evidence Talks. It will teach a variety of cutting-edge tech skills from cloud computing and networking to cyber security, and much of the work students undertake will come from real-life problems faced by the partner companies.
Its aim is to cut the thousands of unfilled tech job vacancies by providing the skills companies in the region are desperate for today.
Congratulating the SCIoT on opening its doors for the first time, the minister said, “What better could you get? Fantastic collaboration between FE colleges, universities and leading employers to focus on those vital skills we’re going to need to drive our economic success in the future.”
The minister stressed the importance of the SCIoT being an employer-led initiative and of teaching skills which are in desperately short supply. “Many businesses today report that 26% of their vacancies they cannot fill, because of a lack of skills and this is a real issue for employers,” she said.
Derrick McCourt from Anchor Partner, Microsoft, said, “We have a massive skills gap in the world of digital… We’re just excited about reigniting further education in the UK and having a new cohort of talented people coming in to our industry to bolster those digital skills needs.”
The SCIoT is a stone’s throw from Bletchley Park, home of the wartime code breakers who themselves were at the cutting edge of that time’s technology and possessed of skills very few people possessed. Sir Dermot Tuning is nephew of Alan Turing, the man behind the Park’s wartime success. He’s also a member of the Anchor Partner Strategy Group at the SCIoT, and said he thought it was a fitting location for such an ambitious project.
“I’ve always thought of the Bletchley Park heritage side of things as not being a backward-looking thing but a forward-looking thing, being about how we can be inspired by the past to discover a new future,” he said. “Obviously as an educational institution, part of what you’re trying to do at the institute of technology is a very positive way of giving effect to that philosophy.”