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Collaborate and close the skills gap: Colleges join forces in appeal to employers

FURTHER education colleges across the region have joined forces in a campaign to bridge the skills gap.

The Colleges of the South-East Midlands comprises Bedford, Barnfield, Milton Keynes, Moulton and Northampton Colleges.  The group collectively engages with 8,500 employers already but says thousands more companies are unaware of the help on offer to recruit new staff or retrain existing employees.

The Delivering Skills, Boosting Business campaign has come out of the Local Skills Improvement Plan with expert input from local authorities, colleges and universities, employers, business groups and trade bodies.  The colleges have launched a one-stop shop for employers (www.deliveringskills.co.uk) to find out more about the education and training available and to demystify the sector for companies who do not currently partner with a college.

Moulton College’s principal and chief executive Corrie Harris said: “The best way to address the skills gaps is closer collaboration with colleges. We have been able to develop bespoke training programmes for new or existing employees, review and update curriculum content to make it relevant to business needs and inspire young people about opportunities within their chosen sector. This campaign will be working to increase awareness of these considerable benefits to a wider reach of businesses in the region.”

Corrie Harris.

The Colleges of South East Midlands Group says further education is a great untapped resource, largely because of the lack of wider understanding of how colleges can help to boost business. Because the vast majority of learners are local to them, colleges are best placed to connect businesses with the right recruits in their area or to train existing members of a company’s workforce.

Pat Brennan-Barrett.

Employers help colleges through guidance on the skills they need in their workforce, updating teachers on the latest industry knowledge and techniques and designing, delivering and assessing student projects.

“It is vital we understand the needs of our local businesses and work closely with them to help deliver their future workforce,” said Pat Brennan-Barrett, principal at Northampton College. “We know many industries are experiencing a skills gap and we want to hear from businesses directly about how we can collaborate to help them to fill that gap and produce a pipeline of ambitious, talented young people, ready to hit the ground running and make a lasting impression in the workplace.”

As well as helping to write an individual’s curriculum to suit their needs, businesses are also encouraged to come into the classroom to speak to learners directly, which can also be a useful recruitment tool.

Yiannis Koursis (pictured right), chief executive of The Bedford College Group – which includes the Tresham College campuses at Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough –  said: “We are a catalyst, igniting the region’s potential to thrive and transforming it into a dynamic powerhouse of talent and skill. Providing an expertly trained workforce is crucial to the success of the region’s businesses.”

Find out more about what colleges can do for your business at www.deliveringskills.co.uk

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