The pandemic has resulted in career changes everywhere, and at the South Central Institute of Technology (SCIoT) it also looks like many people have decided now is the time for a change in direction.
With that in mind, staff at the SCIoT have created new technology courses which aren’t yet on offer anywhere else in the country making sure what’s being taught is completely up-to-date.
Head of Curriculum, Laura Marulanda-Carter, says: “We realised there were a lot of skills which weren’t being covered in the existing curriculum so we decided we needed to put together experiences which are truly relevant to today’s business needs.
"Our students are learning about emerging technologies like the Internet of Things, Big Data and Visualisation, Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR & AR), fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence, 3-D sculpting for VR and AR and so on.
"We’re sharing the modules we’ve produced nationally so eventually other colleges around the country will be able to pick up on them, but for now at least, the SCIoT is the only place in Britain where they can be studied in this way. Of course, we combine all these with the employability skills which are also so much in need like team working, good workplace communication and so on, so we can help people become really well-rounded employees.”
The current student cohort includes people from a whole host of different backgrounds, and Laura says it could be that economic upheaval caused by the pandemic is concentrating people’s minds on the future.
Laura adds: “We have an Uber driver, cleaners, a project manager, a hospital porter and security staff studying alongside high-flying graduates including an astrophysicist and a graphic designer, all seeing their future careers in the technology sector.
"There are several new parents too – all looking to make that step-change in their employment prospects. Obviously, a lot of people have lost jobs or see their existing work as pretty precarious and realise this is the ideal moment to retrain.
"Where once there were tech companies and non-tech companies, virtually all businesses have digital needs nowadays and people are catching on to the benefits of getting trained to fill those yawning skills gaps.”
Research into the jobs market carried out for the SCIoT by Economic Modelling experts, Emsi, found that “between 2010 and 2020, digital job growth in the area [serviced by the SCIoT] grew by 21%, outpacing job growth across the country as a whole.”
Laura Featherstone has recently completed a part-time course in data analytics.
She says: “I wanted to learn some new skills but it was important to be able to fit my studies around my job so the Institute of Technology was the ideal option. I work for a technology company and the course I’ve been doing will help me reach my goal of joining our sales operations working in the data team.
"Everything I’ve done here has been really relevant to my working life, especially the assignments where I had to solve real-life industry problems. The Institute’s website gave me all the information I needed and the admission team were very helpful.”
The new courses have now been taken up by educational publishers, Pearson who worked alongside the SCIoT to produce them.
Jane Baker, Vice President for High Education Qualifications at the company says: “Pearson is proud to have partnered with the South Central Institute of Technology to co-design higher technical qualifications to meet the needs of their employers and students.
"We share the Government's ambition for IoTs to drive the required growth for higher-level technical education (level 4 and 5 - such as Higher Nationals), providing employers with a skilled workforce and students with a clear line of sight to highly skilled employment.
"We were delighted to work with the South Central Institute of Technology to design these qualifications, alongside their employer partners. The development of this qualification has been truly collaborative, resulting in an innovative Higher National qualification, designed to meet employer needs.”
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