Buckinghamshire College and Microsoft Aim to Boost UK Tech Skills

The demand for technical talent in the UK has been on the rise as of late. To address this need, Microsoft has partnered with the South Central Institute of Technology in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire. The institute aims to bridge the gap in developing UK technical talent by offering a range of courses in software development, programming, digital marketing, and game development.

The South Central Institute of Technology, located in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, was established as part of a government initiative to create a network of “Institutes of Technology” across the country. The project, led by Milton Keynes College, received backing from various partner companies including Microsoft, KPMG, and Cranfield University. Construction of the institute began in 2022, and it officially opened its doors in June.

The Skills Gap

One of the primary objectives of the South Central Institute of Technology is to address the skill gaps in the digital sector. Microsoft has played a key role in designing the curriculum, focusing on areas where there is a recognised shortage of skilled professionals. The institute aims to attract individuals from disadvantaged groups and communities, including young women and autistic individuals, who may not have traditionally considered a career in IT.

Derrick McCourt, representing Microsoft, emphasised the significance of reaching out to these communities. He highlighted the economic and social benefits of including individuals who have been traditionally excluded from the digital community. The IT industry in the UK is known for its profitability and high salaries, making it an attractive prospect for individuals seeking economic inclusion and social mobility.

Affordable Education

Another noteworthy aspect of the South Central Institute of Technology is its commitment to making education more accessible and affordable. The institute offers degree-level qualifications at a significantly reduced cost compared to similar university courses.

While three years of studying at a university can cost around £27,000, the equivalent qualifications at the institute are available for £18,000. This affordability factor makes education in the tech field more accessible to a broader range of individuals.

Embracing Diversity and Inclusion

The South Central Institute of Technology not only aims to address the skill gaps in the industry but also promotes diversity and inclusion. The institute actively encourages individuals from underrepresented backgrounds to enroll in its programs. It also welcomes older academics who may be looking to change careers or upgrade their skill sets where their careers are involved.

Richard Lee, a student at the institute, is a testament to its inclusive approach. At the age of 55, he decided to pursue a career in the tech industry after working various jobs, including a supermarket delivery driver. Lee’s story reflects the institute’s commitment to providing opportunities for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.

Partnership with Microsoft

Microsoft’s involvement in the South Central Institute of Technology extends beyond curriculum design. The company sees the institute as an opportunity to nurture and develop UK technical talent, which aligns with its own mission. Microsoft recognises the value of investing in the future workforce and fostering innovation within the industry.

The South Central Institute of Technology has the potential to make a significant impact on the local community and the UK tech sector as a whole. By offering affordable education and addressing skill gaps, the institute aims to produce a new generation of tech professionals who can contribute to the growth and development of the industry.

Not to mention, the institute’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion ensures that individuals from all walks of life have the opportunity to pursue a career in technology. This approach not only benefits the individuals themselves but also contributes to a more inclusive and representative workforce.

From September onwards, the South Central Institute of Technology will welcome up to 200 students who are eager to embark on their tech education journey. As the institute continues to grow and develop, it is poised to become a leading institution in the field of technology education, producing highly skilled professionals who can drive innovation and contribute to the UK’s digital economy.