Businesses urgently need talent with the best tech education: people want careers with real potential, rewards and security. It should be a natural enough cycle, and yet we have skills shortages that are holding back the region’s growth.
Milton Keynes’ proposed new model university, MK: U, has been designed as the component that powers this cycle, supplying the skills and talent that allows the Oxford-Cambridge Arc to deliver on its potential as a world-leading hub for technology businesses.
MK: U has been designed to be different, a fresh start in terms of how education plugs into business.
To begin with, MK: U doesn’t have a general education offering. It’s focused on smart city technologies, business, and the digital economy. Learning is rooted in real-life problems. Students learn the theory, but only so that it can be applied and tested in the context of challenges and projects set by MK: U’s network of business partners – more than 100 to date, ranging from large global tech enterprises to innovative local start-ups. Every subject is backed by a spine of professional skills development – team-working, communications, commercial and project management skills – to make sure graduates are truly work-ready.
Similarly, forms of assessment are being created to be in tune with the work environment. Instead of the closed examination to assess the progress we’re looking at how people can apply their learning and use their skills as they would in the workplace: working alongside colleagues and drawing on available information resources and tools to overcome problems and find new solutions.
Our emphasis on skills and on problem-based learning means that MK: U will be looking to identify the potential in applicants for its courses, not just looking at what qualifications they have gained in the past but what they could achieve through their course. As well as school and college leavers MK: U will welcome people who might not have considered a university education before, both young people and those already working. Our tech focus and practical applied learning linked to professional skills will be attractive to those looking for new careers in emerging technology or seeking to grow a tech business.
MK: U is offering four Degree Apprenticeship courses from this year. Successful completion will lead to the award of a BSc with Honours from the world-renowned Cranfield University. Degree Apprenticeships will be available in management, data science, digital technology, and cybersecurity. Other high-tech courses are planned for the near future.
Degree apprentices are nominated by their employers so local enterprises need to start thinking about how they can be part of this new talent cycle that’s being created on their doorstep. That might mean contributing ideas for the design of courses and problems for students to address. But also taking the opportunity of upskilling staff with tech-focused degree apprenticeships, either using their own apprenticeship levy or levy transfer from a supply chain partner.
If you are an employer looking to recruit or upskill your workforce please contact MK: U’s B2B Relationship Manager, Kamila.Falkowska@cranfield.ac.uk for more information.
Professor Lynette Ryals OBE, Chief Executive of MK:U Ltd and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Cranfield University, www.cranfield.ac.uk/about/mku