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College wins £3.5m to trial new hi-tech business-education link

GOVERNMENT funding totalling £3.5 million is set to boost Milton Keynes College’s plans to improve its links with business through a new skills centre.

The money will pay for the Skills Accelerator centre to be built at the college’s Chaffron Way campus where companies and educators will collaborate in digital skills and artificial intelligence.  The centre is a pilot for a national scheme envisaged by the government.

Milton Keynes College Group chief executive and principal Dr Julie Mills said: “The success of this bid means we can set up a newservice which will be employer-driven to help make sure learners are being taught the digital skills local business really needs. 

Dr Julie Mills, chief executive and group principal at Milton Keynes College

“Being asked to pilot what could become a really significant national scheme shows that the Department for Education has real confidence in the Milton Keynes College Group.”

The centre will operate in partnership with the South Central Institute for Technology, Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce, the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership and Milton Keynes Council, along with the city-wide artificial intelligence group MKAI.

They will deliver their proposals to enable and enhance strategic partnerships between employers and post-16 providers and test how these alliances will help shape future technical skills provision, including through the establishment of a College Business Centre.

MPs Iain Stewart (left) and Ben Everitt

Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart said: “This is brilliant news for Milton Keynes College and our city as a whole and is down to the continued dedicated hard work of Julie Mills and MK College. 

“The pilot will play a huge role in building back better after the pandemic and ensuring learners have the skills and connections they need to go on to have a great career.”

Ben Everitt, MP for Milton Keynes North, added: “I am absolutely delighted MK College has been awarded this new funding to trial the Skills Accelerator programme. MK College can be at the heart of our levelling up agenda at a time when digital skills are going more important than ever to our local employers’ needs.”

Cllr Pete Marland

The council has been working with the college on projects backed by its Economic Recovery Fund. “This latest news is a further boost to the specialist education and employability support MK College can provide to local people,” said council leader Cllr Pete Marland.

The government’s Levelling Up campaign, a central pillar of its policy, aligns with Milton Keynes College’s strategy to provide fairer futures for everyone. “The Skills Match which this funding will support will allow companies to tell us directly what their needs are and for us to use that knowledge to shape the digital curriculum,” said Dr Mills.

Cllr Marland added: “We are delighted that Milton Keynes College’s impressive bid has been successful in securing this significant level of investment, and we look forward to seeing their plans for an exciting new College Business Centre become a reality.”

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