A consortium including Cranfield University has been granted £28 million by the Department for Education to build an Institute of Digital Technology (IoT) at Bletchley Park, with two additional hubs in Oxford and Reading.
A thousand students a year are expected to benefit from the expertise of the Institute, which will be 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 aged 18 and over will attend the Institute in person and study online. Milton Keynes is ranked as the eighth most active city in the country for technical innovation and the Institute will help to train the people who are going to be needed not just in the city and the wider region but all over the country.
College Principal and CEO, Dr Julie Mills, is delighted by the news. “The announcement that the government has agreed to fund the IoT at Bletchley Park is a huge vote of confidence in our consortium," she said. "Our focus is now set on delivering an Institute that will give young people the opportunity to become the digital leaders of the future. The Institute will provide them with a clear path to a great career and employers with the skilled workforce they need.”
The Institute is one of 12 across the country to be supported by £170 million of Government funding. The fund was set up to establish a unique and prestigious type of institution delivering high-level technical education with a clear route to high-skilled employment. The IoT at Bletchley Park will operate under the aegis of Milton Keynes College in partnership with a host of partners from local SMEs to corporate giants including Microsoft and KPMG.
Professor Lynette Ryals OBE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Cranfield University and Chief Executive, MK:U, said: “This is great news for MK College and the IoT, which will provide great opportunities for future students and benefit local employers. We look forward to working with MK College and the industry partners in seeing the plans come to fruition.”
Derrick McCourt, General Manager, Customer Success Unit at Microsoft, said “In a world being transformed by technology, today’s students have a wealth of opportunity to create and solve problems through learning and applying computer science. The new Institute of Technology we are announcing today will help to provide a much-needed pathway for students to develop their digital skills and practical expertise, which are vital in bridging the shortage in digital skills across the nation.
"Microsoft’s collaborations with Milton Keynes College and Cranfield University are helping to develop the next generation of digital experts. This announcement is a hugely positive step forward in ensuring that students and employers are armed with the digital skills they want and need – both now and in the future.”
Ben McDonald, Partner at KPMG and sponsor of the firm’s support for the IoT, said: “We’re delighted to be closely involved in this exciting project. Both our own firm and the clients we advise are evolving to recognise the importance of digital skills and the IoT will be a great source of digital talent. We are proud of the work we do in and around Milton Keynes and the IoT will make a huge difference to the area and its attractiveness as a business destination.”
Paul Gartside, Vice President of UK Research & Development, McAfee, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this inspiring and bold initiative working alongside Milton Keynes College. Creating an IoT at such an amazing and historic site is very close to our heart and continues a long association that McAfee has with Bletchley Park. McAfee is committed to working with MK College focusing on STEM, coding and teaching people how to stay safe online. We have over 100 volunteers globally who have contributed in excess of 10,000 volunteer hours over a five-year period, reaching over 100,000 students, teachers and parents.”
Elizabeth Sheldon, Co-Founder & Chairman, Evidence Talks, said, “This is fantastic news. The requirement in this region for digital skills remains high and will continue to grow as the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge Arc is formed. The IoT at Bletchley Park will deliver students to fulfil the requirement of many businesses in the sector who need these digital skills from future employees.”
Dan James, Marketing Director at VWFS, said, “We are thrilled to be one of the partners on this exciting project, and are really pleased with the outcome. Given the importance of attracting innovative individuals to our organisation alongside the increasing skills shortage in the Fintech sector, we are delighted that the IoT will now be able to nurture these skills in Milton Keynes.”
Iain Standen, Chief Executive of the Bletchley Park Trust, said: “We are delighted that the go ahead has been received to allow an IoT to be established in Block D. Bletchley Park is a place where innovative digital technology was pioneered, and this legacy will undoubtedly inspire the future generations who learn here. We look forward to working with Milton Keynes College and partners to make this plan a reality.”
Alex Warner, Director of Delivery for Technology in Berkshire for Activate Learning, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for education providers and businesses to work together to address the future needs of the digital technology industry here in the UK. I think it’s incredibly fitting the historic setting of Bletchley Park will now play host to the future Alan Turing's of the digital technology age. By partnering in the delivery of this new initiative, Activate Learning is demonstrating its commitment to help shape the way education is delivered, and the way industry partners are engaged to ensure we have the skills needed for this vitally important sector to grow and thrive.”