Tech Park launched to drive digital skills in Bletchley

    A new centre to drive digital skills has opened in Bletchley at the South Central Institute of Technology (SCIoT), part of Milton Keynes College Group.

    Bletchley Tech Park offers courses from the most basic digital programmes up to more sophisticated certificates in areas like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR). 

    The Tech Park has been co-funded by Milton Keynes City Council, using a grant the city council successfully bid for from the Government’s Town Deal programme to help with the regeneration of Bletchley and bring long term economic growth.

    Anna Clarke heads up Tech Park for Milton Keynes College Group.  She says it has courses that could appeal to just about anyone.  “We’ve had school children learning about VR and we’ve had business people taking their existing digital skills to a higher level.  Some companies might want to update several staff on a particular programme, like Microsoft Excel for example; others might need us to support only one or two individuals on understanding what AI could mean for their business.  At the other end of the scale, we can also help people who want to be able to get more from their phones or learn how to book a GP appointment online; we’re incredibly flexible.”

    The Tech Park is entirely self-contained at the SCIoT site with meeting rooms and teaching spaces and it’s equipped with all kinds of high-tech equipment including VR headsets and Sphero Balls, mini robots that help to teach people how to write computer code.

    Anna says, “We know that a lack of knowledge and confidence in terms of digital skills are holding a lot of people back when it comes to career progression, and that’s something we need to address in an area like ours where there are so many digitally-related businesses needing people to work for them.  There are plenty of people who lack the most basic knowledge, and we’re trialling an essential digital skills course right now to try to address that.  We want to hear from individuals, from schools, from companies and community groups – anyone who thinks they might benefit from the training we can offer.”

    Tech Park has already been training young people from Milton Keynes YMCA to give them a better chance of finding work, as well as being visited by pupils from Lord Grey Academy in Bletchley for our launch event, who found the experience of wearing VR headsets really useful for revision.

    Lord Grey Academy computer science teacher Sakshi Pabbi says, “Thank you for choosing Lord Grey Academy for the Tech Park event. The session was really great and showed how much technology can change education. Your way of teaching with 3D was cool and made learning fun. Seeing technology mix virtual stuff into the real world was amazing. By using 3D technology, you showed a smart way of teaching that gets students involved and helps them understand better.  Overall, the session proved how powerful technology can be in making education better. It gives us new ways to learn and be interested. I'm excited to see more advancements and use them in my own learning.” 

    Anna says age is no barrier to learning about tech.  “It doesn’t matter how young or old you are and what level of digital skills you have already, if at all, we think we’ll have something for pretty much everyone.”

    Anyone who would like to find out more can visit https://southcentraliot.ac.uk/tech-park-bletchley/ 

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