Getting down to business with business

Mon 03 Mar 2014

It is an astonishing and disheartening fact that the Further Education (FE) sector is responsible for just two per cent of the vast and hugely important market for providing CPD (Continuing Professional Development) to British business.  I in no way wish to denigrate the private providers out there who are our competition, many of whom provide excellent training and skills for companies.  What I am saying is that FE colleges are centred in their own local communities and focused on the needs of their specific business and industrial landscape.  With highly trained and professional staff we are expert at imparting skills and knowledge across a range of sectors and at all levels. In addition we are an organisation whose purpose is to drive skills improvement and employability in our community; to drive economic growth and wellbeing. Any financial surplus we generate is reinvested in improving what we offer.  In other words, we ought to be the first port of call for ongoing training and if we’re not, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Milton Keynes College has taken some giant strides forward in recent months in terms of making sure business knows enough about us and has enough confidence in us to seriously consider what we offer in terms of training and so much more.  This week (Thursday 28th November) sees the launch of the Business & Leadership Centre at Silbury Campus and the timing could not be better.  Our Business Engagement Team tells us that the response from local companies to our training portfolio has been absolutely overwhelming.  They see us as an organisation with the expertise to meet their needs and the motivation to see Milton Keynes, its employers and employees, thrive.  Silbury Campus is effectively the embodiment of that philosophy, and it’s a philosophy which encompasses everything from brand new start-ups to long-established international concerns.  New companies will be able to take advantage of available office space (and five have moved in already) and all our business partners have access to incredible facilities across our estate such as our TV studio, a 3D printer and even a pastry kitchen.  What’s more they will be in absolutely the right place to forge their own partnerships with us and with each other – all for the betterment of business in the city.

Perhaps the main reason that two per cent figure is so low is that colleges have historically failed to speak the language business understands.  Milton Keynes College is a social enterprise that has to be run commercially. I am both the principal of a college and the CEO of a business that turns over sixty million pounds a year and employs two thousand people.  We can provide the traditional forms of CPD like leadership and management, accountancy or computer qualifications, but it’s our flexibility which makes us such an effective provider.  Recently we hosted and delivered an entire induction day for new staff joining one particular local company and you can’t get much more bespoke than that.  We aim to offer the best of all worlds, bridging the gap between academic rigour and practical application.

If there are any entrepreneurs or small business people out there who remain unconvinced, I would urge them to pop along to Silbury Campus between Tuesday 3rd and Thursday 12th December where they’ll be able to take a taste of what I’ve been talking about as part of International Small Business Day (technically the event is supposed to be just one day but we thought it such a good idea we stretched it to ten).  Anyone can register for a host of extremely useful, interesting and most importantly free workshops on a range of subjects including taxation, business law, customer focus, funding, promotion, sales etc. etc.  New and existing business folk alike will all be able to find something really worthwhile for them.  Visit for more details and I hope to see you there.

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