​The white paper, Delivering the Missing Middle, is a joint initiative between Code Institute, City of Bristol College, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Gateway Qualifications.

It examines the implications of the government’s Skills for Jobs white paper, launched in January 2021, and reveals how City of Bristol College will prepare people for a career in software development – and do so in less than a year.

The “Missing Middle” in the title of the white paper refers to the current shortfall in skills-focused technical education at levels 4 and 5 which are outnumbered by degree level graduates by a factor of 80:1. This is a problem for two apparently contradictory reasons. According to the white paper it is wasteful because it over-educates a huge part of the workforce and because many graduates are under-qualified, lacking the skills employers need.

Andy Forbes, Principal and Chief Executive of City of Bristol College, said: “For me, it’s quite ludicrous, given the importance of coding and digital to the modern economy, that we don’t have an education system that produces people with the right skills”.

Employers are crying out for people with digital skills, and software development skills in particular. To address the problem of the Missing Middle, level 4 and 5 technical qualifications can provide learners with a fast track into tech jobs, the white paper argues. It’s also vital to have a quality technical qualification that can be delivered quickly to help people who need reskill post-covid. 

Lee Lindsay, Education Consultant at Code Institute, said: “Recent shifts in policy at government level have brought qualifications at levels 4 and 5 into the spotlight. Like us, the government feels that skills at these levels can play a significant role in the bounce-back from Covid”.

Further Education colleges are best placed to deliver these skills. However, they often lack the resources to develop and maintain the content. So, partnering with a qualified third-party offers colleges a ready-made solution to give learners the skills they need to kickstart a tech career.

City of Bristol College is now offering a level 5 qualification that will prepare people for a career in software development by partnering with Code Institute and Gateway Qualifications to make this possible. This is a one-year job-focused software development/web application skills qualification with 90% graduate employment in the tech sector within six months of qualifying.

The white paper argues that this course, the Level 5 Gateway Qualifications Diploma in Web Application Development, with learning content provided by Code Institute and delivered by City of Bristol College, is an important piece of the “Missing Middle” and a perfect fit for the type of higher technical qualification the government envisages in its Skills for Jobs white paper.

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