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City of Wolverhampton College lights the way in tackling local unemployment

19 June 2019

Beacon Awards Leading Light winner presentation.jpg City of Wolverhampton College has won a prestigious national awards title for an innovative programme designed to tackle local unemployment and skill shortages. The college won the Association of Colleges (AoC) Leading Light Award for its programme which aims to change the long-term prospects of its local area. The accolade was presented by Baroness Sharp of Guildford, President of the AoC Charitable Trust, at a ceremony in central London. The college was one of 11 winners in the AoC Beacon Awards. It received the overall Leading Light recognition for its winning entry in the College Engagement with Employers category. The college works with small, medium and large employers, including Jaguar Land Rover, BAE Systems and Lego, to ensure that students and adults are provided with the right skills for the jobs available. The scheme is aimed at employees, unemployed people and apprentices. It identifies areas of skills shortages such as construction, engineering and healthcare and sets them as key priorities. All students enrolled onto a substantial course at the college are given the opportunity to undertake work experience, which introduces them to local employers. Claire Boliver, Principal and CEO of City of Wolverhampton College, said: “We are absolutely delighted to win the award because it demonstrates our hard work with employers and the local community to get people back into work. We get excellent feedback from the employers we work with and we have built great relationships with them.” On announcing the college as the winner of the Leading Light Award, Baroness Sharp said: “I chose this project because we all know that employer engagement is going to be the key to success for further education colleges in the next few years when money will be tight and competition increasing. “The partnership approach adopted by City of Wolverhampton College provides a splendid example of best practice for others to follow. What I particularly like is the fact that their partnership reaches out beyond employers to other community organisations including the local authorities to develop a wider strategy which aims to meet and create employment opportunities over the longer term. “It’s looking forward – not just answering immediate problems.” Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, which sponsored the Beacon Award, said: “City of Wolverhampton College’s employer engagement programme demonstrates exactly what colleges have to offer when it comes to education and training. “Not only is the college preparing its students through work experience, it is working directly with employers to provide them with employees who have the right skills for their job vacancies. “Colleges across the country already work with employers of all sizes and we know that these relationships are important in helping to support the local economy. The work experience element offered to students at City of Wolverhampton College is important in helping them to choose their career.” The college also won the Beacon Award for Outstanding Leadership of Improvement. The prestigious awards are given to colleges from across the UK, which create positive opportunities for both staff and students through innovative thinking and excellent teaching.