Bridgwater & Taunton College shortlisted for TES Professional Services Team of the Year Award - Bridgwater & Taunton College

TES FE Awards 2020 has shortlisted Bridgwater & Taunton College’s Business Development Team for Professional Services Team of the Year Award.

The Busniess Development Team (BD), that currently works with over 1,000 employers, from local micro-businesses to global enterprises, is helping the College to realise its vision to be a world-class college of further and higher education by developing a raft of responsive, flexible apprenticeship programmes that directly address local workforce needs and create fantastic employment/progression opportunities for local people.

A March 2019 Ofsted inspection graded the College ‘outstanding’ in five key areas, most notably Leadership & Management, Apprenticeships and Adult Learning Programmes, reporting that:  “Partnerships with employers and other stakeholders lead to excellent opportunities for learners. ….. College leaders are highly skilled at working with international, national and local employers to plan and develop a curriculum that takes account of the future direction of industries.”

A key focus for the BD Team has been apprenticeship growth. Despite a declining demographic among 16-18-year-olds, and against national trends, it has seen apprenticeship enrolments increase by 18% year on year since 2012, and by the end of 2017/18 had 2512 apprentices on programme. Latest figures show a staggering 28% growth rate and an overall projected timely achievement rate of 80%.

BD’s success is attributable to:

  • An experienced, industry-aware team of highly motivated professionals, with a customer-focused DNA, who are conversant in Apprenticeship reforms, acting as both support and consultant to employers
  • A responsive, flexible and strategic approach unconstrained by the published prospectus
  • Proactively seeking to understand businesses’ skills training needs
  • Helping employers to identify Levy opportunities
  • Engaging with wider stakeholders – industry, Government, LEP, County/District Councils, university partners, awarding bodies and sector-specific organisations – to ensure business priorities are aligned
  • Effectively managing client portfolios through a single point of contact
  • Working collaboratively and sharing best practice with others.

Outstanding examples of BD’s response to identified business needs include a nationwide coaching apprenticeship with British Gymnastics; a new degree apprenticeship to fulfil EDF Energy’s urgent need for world-class procurement professionals; and a unique collaboration with the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to upskill 50 healthcare assistants in the face of an acute nursing shortage.

BD were the natural choice to spearhead new T Level industry placement activity, leveraging employer relationships to create not only 1200 relevant, meaningful one-week work placements across 560 employers, but also 300 industry placements of 45 days’ duration. The impact is already clear, with a number of learners – some with ALS and SEN – progressing from work placements/supported traineeships to apprenticeships and permanent employment.

The work of the College’s BD Team is having a hugely positive impact in a region with no university of its own and an acute shortage of higher-level skills. New, employer-led, vocational routes to Levels 3 and above are raising aspirations among non-academic and disadvantaged individuals, resulting in greater productivity, increased STEM participation, higher standards and almost zero une

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