* indicates required

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.

Sally Alexander.

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.

Milton Keynes College Group’s principal and chief executive Sally Alexander said: “Everybody understands what schools and universities are for but colleges are a mystery to many because they have never had any dealings with them.  We can provide bespoke training in a form to perfectly suit any business, with content agreed with them in advance.

“In other words, we teach the things they need us to teach.”

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.

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.

“We work with many employers across a wide range of sectors,” said Barnfield College principal Cath Gunn. “They often ask for help filling vacancies or training staff.  Employers also assist us with our curriculum in some really important ways.

Yiannis Koursis.

“Employers who work with us report it helps them to recruit the high-quality staff they need.  We welcome contact from any employers who are not yet benefitting from this.”

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, chief executive of The Bedford College Group, 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.”

Businesses can find out more at www.deliveringskills.co.uk

More from Bedford:

More education articles: