I am proud to support Love Our Colleges week this year to ‘Get In and Go Further’.
There are seismic shifts taking place right across the UK – from demographic variation and technological revolution, through to evolving labour market demands and climate change. All have wide-ranging implications that will present significant challenges to the college sector, these are challenges that colleges can not only help to meet and manage, but also harness to innovate, drive-up productivity and deliver industrial strategies.
Bridgwater & Taunton College (BTC) is based in the heart of Somerset which is experiencing an unprecedented period of inward investment and regeneration. BTC is spearheading the drive to reap maximum benefit for local people, ensuring they are offered the skills training needed to enjoy meaningful, rewarding and satisfying careers.
Firmly embedded within communities, colleges have unique insight and an inherently practical understanding of education and skills training as drivers of economic development and social inclusion. I have the unswerving belief that if we harness education and skills training, we can secure economic growth and prosperity for business and communities.
Local strategic alliances are key to delivering the region’s vision. BTC works with stakeholders that include local councils, chambers of commerce over 1500 employers plus industry specialists, community organisations and awarding bodies to support the national skills agenda. Its innovative, accredited, and often bespoke training programmes are designed with and for businesses to meet their current and future workforce needs. This collaborative approach enables us to leverage government initiatives at a local level and create opportunities for the local community, thereby driving prosperity, supporting regional regeneration, and promoting social mobility and inclusion.
The UK’s national funding picture can seem complex to navigate. BTC has an impressive track record of understanding policy changes and direction of travel, with staff being skilled at identifying and unlocking available funding. This has enabled it to attract significant funding for new technical facilities such as the National College for Nuclear and the Construction Skills and Innovation Centre, built to support major infrastructure projects, including Hinkley Point C. These investments place BTC firmly front and centre of the UK’s industrial strategy.
We recognise that, whilst currently highly engaged in supporting the UK’s nuclear renaissance, we have a responsibility to also support our county’s other industry sectors in addressing their skills gaps. We work diligently across many segments such as digital technologies, healthcare and the food and drink sector, using the same degree of understanding and foresight to secure funding and investment for new facilities and infrastructure that meet local, regional, and national needs. Indeed, BTC is the first College in the country to be offering Nursing training, from T Levels, Degree Apprenticeships through to Degrees this is a true testament to the depth of expertise and experience the college has, which has enabled them to forge relationships and work collaboratively with employers within the NHS to develop and deliver programmes to plug the local and regional skills gaps.
Our first-class reputation and standing have resulted in unique opportunities which extend far beyond the local boundaries. This is in part due to our unrelenting determination to move forward, we consistently seek to provide our learners with new opportunities, we embrace the latest technologies, teaching methods and industry developments to ensure learners are well placed to seize the many exciting opportunities that regional regeneration brings.
I could not be prouder to be a Principal of an FE College, supporting the community to Get in and Go Further is a fantastic summary of the work colleges do every day to support the national skills requirements.
– Andy Berry, Principal and CEO