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Beacon Award Commended College Synopses 2022/23 - The City and Guild Award for College Engagement with Employers


The Isle of Wight College

By working with employers and having strong engagement with them, the college successfully gained funding for projects enabling CECAMM to work closely with individuals who struggle with accessing the provision. The Ingenious project is one example of how project work can have a positive impact on bringing employers and the community together to break stereotypes. This project successfully engaged groups of people who normally would not understand or consider the various aspects of engineering. The aim was to establish access and equal opportunity into engineering, we also ran events introducing the community and young people to sustainable alternatives such as Electric Vehicles and retrofit technologies. We trained employers to deliver presentations to young people in schools and groups, focusing on less affluent areas and typically hard to reach groups such as females. In collaboration with an 1851 project several local employers offered taster and interview technique sessions, approximately 140 female school children had the opportunity to liaise with tutors and female engineers supporting the event. We reached those groups with lower aspiration, participation and representation in engineering and sustainable technology such as Wind Energy, Robotics, Precision Engineering, Electronics, Composites, Marine etc., inspiring them to get involved. On International women’s day we ran events and activities aimed at young females in school and community groups such as Girl Guides. Presentations in schools raised awareness of the diverse job roles available within engineering, particularly on the Island. We ran taster days for all schools but prioritised those in the most deprived areas.

​​Sparsholt College in conjunction with Alton College, Andover College, Basingstoke College of Technology, Brooklands College and Guildford College.​

​​The mismatch between the needs of industry and the Further Education curriculum is often cited by employers. The Academic Industry Sabbaticals Programme was designed to be one of the tools that we use to break down the mismatch or perception of mismatch in addition to industry curriculum boards, industry visits, employer forums etc. Whilst most staff delivering vocational learning in Further Education come from an industry background it can be outdated. Delivery models and scarcity of staffing resource limits opportunity for academic staff to update skills and gain knowledge in modern-industry practice (resulting in outdated delivery). Building employer sabbaticals into the annual CPD cycle provides opportunity to have industry influenced and owned curriculum content and provides academic staff with the opportunity to upskill. It further provides the opportunity to take stock of the modernity of the curriculum offer identifying changes needed. In undertaking this project as a consortium of colleges, the lessons learned can be shared amongst the network for their consideration providing for an acceleration of understanding than would otherwise be achieve by each college in our district operating in isolation.​

South Devon College

The College has pursued its mission of “learning for all”, by constantly adapting its curriculum to meet the needs of learners and employers. The photonics and microelectronics sector has been identified by Government as a high potential opportunity. The region is blessed with a cluster of Hi-Tech businesses many of whom are world leaders in photonics and microelectronics. A strategic collaboration between the LEP, County Council, local Economic Development Agency, Hi-Tech Cluster and the College created the unique scenario of being able to respond to this high potential opportunity. This response included the appointment of a skills development coordinator who led redesigning the College’s engineering curriculum to incorporate nationally unique, photonic and microelectronics training. This redesign required significant College and Business collaboration around co-design and co-delivery. Outcomes from this collaboration included: equipping of an electronics and photonics training suite; appointment of sector specialist associate lecturers and the development, academic approval and delivery of new short courses, degree and apprenticeship training programmes. This successful initiative has ensured that the College has once again adapted its curriculum and created a unique engineering technician training programme that sustains its mission of “learning for all” and meets local skills needs.

Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education

This Beacon submission outlines an exceptional and innovative whole college approach to employer engagement which is transformational for our learners, employers and our region. It annually involves over 12,000 students, 2000 employers, five LEP partnerships and has been operating with exceptional success for the last 5 years. We have helped over 5000 adults back into long term employment, secured meaningful work placements for over 10,000 young people, secured professional engagement and internships for 3000 HE students and served employers and the economic needs of the region with just under 6000 apprentices. The area we serve is characterised by significant coastal economic and social deprivation, many of our catchment areas rank among the most deprived in the country, 30% of our students have a learning difficulty or disability. The accessibility of our provision is prioritised. Our extensive and exceptional engagement with employers has enabled the local authorities to secure inward investment from local, regional, national and international employers in emerging technologies such as offshore wind and green energy. It has enabled thousands of young people to be work ready, thousands of adults to retrain / upskill and thousands more adults to return to the workplace after lengthy periods of unemployment.

Gower College Swansea

When international employer TATA Steel faced a shortage in laboratory skills, Gower College Swansea solved the problem. An innovative apprenticeship pathway for Laboratory and Science Technicians was developed. The College not only developed a level 3 apprenticeship in laboratory and industrial science but went one step further, developing a level 4 higher apprenticeship in life-science industries. The College worked hard to secure further progression for the pathway and reached an agreement with Swansea University to allow students to go on to the second year of their chemistry undergraduate degree programme - the first chemistry pathway of its kind in the UK. In a typically male dominated sector, the female apprentices are award winning and encourage other young girls to follow their impressive lead. But, what really sets the programme apart is the additional development that apprentices are offered. The College collaborates with Swansea University, the Royal Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, the Steel and Metal Institute (SaMI), and World skills to offer apprentices the most cutting-edge skills. Today, TATA Steel and other major employers, such as Huntsman Corporation and Vale Europe, all benefit from the programme and have acknowledged the vocational and professional excellence achieved by their apprentices.

Bournemouth and Poole College

This partnership has been built over a decade and we now have over 350 apprentices from this one employer with 100 starts committed for this year alone. The programme has organically developed over the last ten years, fostered by a mutual respect and trust based relationship that is the basis of any good training partnership.

Bridgwater & Taunton College

The college has already gained national recognition for employer engagement. This entry focuses on the exceptional way in which it has partnered with NHS Somerset and local healthcare organisations to not only deliver nurse education pathways from Levels 2 to 6, but also – totally unique in FE – to gain National Midwifery Council (NMC) site approval to deliver direct entry BScs. In doing so, the college is demonstrating the vital role that FE has to play in addressing a local and national skills training crisis. Its unique achievements mean that individuals of all ages and abilities – some already employed in the sector – can now access a raft of career pathways into healthcare that can take them from an Internship, Level 2 transition programme or Access to HE qualification, via Level 3 programmes that include a T Level in Health, right through to qualifications at Levels 4, 5 and now a locally owned and managed BSc, that are wholly delivered on their doorstep. The college’s partnership with NHS Somerset represents a system-wide ‘home grown’ approach that links learner numbers to workforce plans and ensures that local talent is retained within Somerset, whilst also reducing reliance on expensive external and international recruitment.

The Sheffield College

Our Employer Skills Academies initiative enables employers to co-design and co-deliver a curriculum that meets their future workforce skills in order to raise students’ aspirations, enhance the teaching and learning experience of a student’s educational journey, and prepare students to enter the workplace with the skills and behaviours required for a successful career. The Employer Skills Academies enable college students to enhance their studies by engaging with employers to gain transferable employability skills, sector knowledge and practical experience. This is achieved through industry expert speakers, workplace visits or industry-relevant visits, placement opportunities, projects and masterclasses. Each employer academy has a dedicated teaching and learning space. This space replicates the employer premises, including equipment, corporate branding, furniture, student uniforms, branded stationary and other items. Academies are typically made up of 20-30 college students. Students join an Academy through an application and interview process, meaning that employers can work with, shape and eventually recruit from the best upcoming talent in their sectors. The college now has 21 ESAs with employers across a range of key sectors such as Kier (Construction), WanDisco and Millgate (Digital), and Greene King (Hospitality). In 2021/22 there were 1,188 students participating in the academy programmes.

Cambridge Regional College

In response to the immediate and emerging needs of employers during and post pandemic, in April 2021, Cambridge Regional College (CRC) implemented a new and innovative approach to providing support, creating The Business Skills Centre. The Centre’s aim is to provide a one-stop-shop for employers looking to recruit young people. A successful bid enabled CRC to secure £750K of funding over 4 years. As a result existing staff roles were widened and new staff recruited enabling the new Business Skills Centre to focus not just on apprenticeship recruitment but also on: • providing an advisory service to support those new to apprenticeships and those looking to access Government incentives. • the creation of careers videos to encourage young people to consider roles in sectors with skills shortages • support for the delivery of a careers fair for primary school children to raise their aspirations and later in the day, for key stage 4 and 5 to enable employers to identify talent and offer interviews. • delivering employer showcases with employers in their organisation to attract talent • working with student services to develop a personal development portfolio, ensuring students on study programmes develop the employability skills that employers need in addition to qualifications. The wider engagement with employers has seen additional benefits, with more employers offering to deliver talks to students, 4 key employers becoming strategic partners offering wider support to the College, to staff and to students; and employers engaging in forums to help the College shape future curriculum. As a result of the one-stop-shop, employer satisfaction has further improved, new companies have taken on apprentices, employers have maximised apprenticeship incentives, and students have secured industry placements, apprenticeship opportunities and job offers.

Preston College

Back in 2015, it came to our attention from research carried out by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) that there was a real need for construction skills across all levels in Lancashire, highlighting a very obvious skills gap in the County relating to the significant incoming City Deal investment. In an urgent response, Preston College initiated the ‘Central Lancashire Construction Skills Hub’, leading a group of partners including local authorities, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and other local training providers to work collaboratively to ensure that provision across Lancashire was developed to meet the identified skills shortages in Construction. Central to our planning was ensuring that local individuals and businesses prospered from the inward investment, and we proactively set about the process of research, engagement and curriculum development. The Central Lancashire Construction Skills Hub continues to have significant impact. Construction provision at Preston College has grown significantly and diversified, currently being our largest technical curriculum area across college-based and apprenticeship provision. Learner numbers have grown exponentially, whilst the range and breadth of employer and other partners with whom we work is extensive.

City College Plymouth

City College Plymouth created two virtual environments (VEs), one to be used at marketing events by potential students and anyone interested in construction careers called Ocean City 2069, whilst the second asset was designed to engage employers and for students providing them with access to a real-life working building site through the use of virtual reality.

Using virtual reality headsets and controllers, users are able to navigate around the VEs carrying out tasks and exploring our construction sites to understand general responsibilities whilst visiting or working in the construction industry.

In Ocean City 2069, participants are taken to our future vision of our built environment with high-rise living and working, incorporating innovative technologies and sustainable practices to help reduce the impact of our buildings in the future and preserve and protect the environment.

The site experience allows the participants to take their first day working on a house building site and search for hazards and gain an understanding of the risks involved when working around excavations, using power tools and working at height, whilst our local industry partners have utilised the resources to engage their staff in the use of innovative technologies such as VR and AR, with great success.