New business and education partnership will help to close the Oxfordshire technical skills gap

Over 3,000 creative and digital sector businesses are based in Oxfordshire, generating a total of £1.4billion to the UK economy each year. With such an important and rapidly evolving sector, it is vital for business and education to work together to drive progress and innovation.

A major new technology centre is being established to develop the skills Oxfordshire businesses need to grow. Based at the world-famous Bletchley Park and with hubs in Oxford and Reading, the South Central Institute of Technology (IoT) will deliver higher technical educational programmes with a focus on digital and computing to a thousand students a year.

Activate Learning, which runs colleges in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Surrey, is working with Milton Keynes College and prestigious partners including Microsoft, KPMG, McAfee, Evidence Talks, VWFS
and Cranfield University on the £28million project.

IoT hubs will be created at Activate Learning’s City of Oxford and Reading campuses to offer technical qualifications, higher apprenticeships and training to plug the growing gap between demand and supply for key technical and digital roles, including cyber security. The new facilities will enhance our business-focussed learning programmes that already provide employers with a skilled workforce and students with a clear route to technical employment.

Our award-winning Learning Philosophy has driven new models of applied learning, which develop motivated and emotionally strong learners. Every year our philosophy helps thousands of people to unlock their potential and switch on to the power of learning. We do this by developing independent learning skills, teaching active listening, building life skills, and through identifying technical and soft skills required for the workplace.

Last year we created over 300,000 hours of work experience and provided our partners with priority access to new talent that they helped to shape through joint curriculum design and delivery.

These partnerships are important because they drive up student performance, motivate young people to pursue careers in which they will thrive, and tackle the skills gap so that we can contribute to the continued success of our local economy.

The new IoT hubs will add to our commitment to providing the most up-to-date teaching methods, facilities and real-life work experience opportunities for all our students.

Jon Adams is Activate Learning’s Group Executive Director for Technology and explains why the South Central Institute of Technology will be good for Oxfordshire business.

He said: “At Activate Learning we’ve been working hard with tech employers and fostering good industry relationships for years to try and ensure that the talent is there for their businesses to thrive in the future.
“The creation of the new South-Central Institute of Technology will allow for an even higher calibre of training, with industry partners lending their expertise – both in terms of curriculum content and hands-on classroom time – to teach and train the next generation of digital pioneers.

“We know from all the work we do engaging with companies across the technology sector that their main worry is a lack of people in the market with the right skills to help their businesses grow.

“The new IoT based within the grounds of the historic Bletchley Park and the respective hubs in Oxford and Reading, will provide businesses across the region access to exactly the talent they need.

“Over the coming months we will be reaching out to businesses across the sector that we feel would benefit from a relationship with the IoT and we want to form long-lasting, meaningful collaborations.

“Because it’s not just about the talent that isn’t there yet, it’s also about the talent within businesses already. People who, with the right training, could contribute enormously to their business. There’s so much potential.”

So, as work progresses there is a lot for the technology sector across the region to be positive about and fortune will favour those who are bold enough to help drive engagement and support innovation.

The future starts here.

About Activate Learning

With colleges across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Surrey, Activate Learning delivers education at both further and higher levels, as well as apprenticeships and a growing international offer.

We recognise that in order for our learners to be successful, we need to teach them the things that industry really needs. This is why we work with more than 2,000 companies across all sectors nationwide in order to address the challenges they face. And because of the scale with which we operate and our different provisions, we can offer support to businesses at every level and help their staff transform their lives through learning.

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