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Chris Baish, managing director of the IoT; Carole Kitching, principal of New College Swindon; Rob Wheeler, head of digital engineering at Nationwide and chairman of IoT employer group; Michelle Donelan, minister of state for higher and further education; Cllr David Renard, leader of Swindon Borough Council

Minister launches skills courses for working adults in Swindon

A national programme of free digital courses for working adults has been launched in Swindon by government minister Michelle Donelan.

Minister of state for higher and further education Michelle, whose constituency is in neighbouring Chippenham, launched the £6.4 million programme at the new Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology.

The aim of the government-funded project is to rapidly upskill employees in STEM sectors including engineering, digital and construction – building on the Prime Minister’s pledge to get more people into higher wage, higher-skilled jobs.

Across the country, sixty-five courses will be available from later this month at ten Institutes of Technology, including Swindon and Wiltshire’s, supporting up to 4,000 adults to study flexibly and allowing more people to secure well-paid jobs.

The free courses will help thousands of working adults to rapidly upskill or retrain, as part of the government’s drive to plug skills gaps and boost access to more high-quality training alternatives.

Sixty-five short and modular courses will start to roll out from later this month across England in sought-after STEM subjects. Courses at Swindon will include cyber security, cloud management, agile methodology, dev-ops, and data analysis.

Courses are taught by industry experts, who will each bring their own knowledge and experience to enrich the learning experience.

The programmes will be available to working adults aged 19 and over, with priority given to those employed locally to the IoT, in related industries.

The IoTs have worked in partnership with local employers to ensure courses address existing skills gaps, meaning employees from both large and SME businesses will be able to gain in-demand new skills or retrain – so they can progress on to higher-skilled, higher-paid jobs in their area.

The government’s network of Institutes of Technology – collaborations between leading employers, further education colleges and universities – specialise in delivering high-quality higher technical education and training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects, such as digital, advanced manufacturing and engineering, providing employers with the skilled workforce they need.

“Making sure more people can train and develop at any stage of their life to secure high skilled, high paid jobs is at the heart of our plans,” said Michelle.

“These fantastic new courses will open up more training alternatives for adults, address skills gaps in our economy and level-up opportunities across the country.

“We are also investing up to £18 million to support over 100 further and higher education providers to expand the higher technical training on offer to their local communities.”

Principal and CEO of New College Swindon Carole Kitching said: “As lead partner of the ground-breaking Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology, New College Swindon is delighted to be able to offer these flexible, free courses to employers.

“We are seeing high demand for these short programmes in Digital Skills which have been developed in partnership with employers to meet workforce skills gaps and delivered at times to suit our clients.

“I would encourage interested businesses to contact us as soon as possible for more information as fully funded places are filling up fast.”

For further information on courses being offered by the Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology, email freeworkskills@newcollege.ac.uk or call 07879 518677.

Pictured: Chris Baish, managing director of the IoT; Carole Kitching, principal of New College Swindon; Rob Wheeler, head of digital engineering at Nationwide and chairman of IoT employer group; Michelle Donelan, minister of state for higher and further education; Cllr David Renard, leader of Swindon Borough Council