The Changing Role of Colleges in Shaping Business and Enterprise - Bridgwater & Taunton College

Liz Redwood, head of employer relations at Bridgwater & Taunton College, looks at how colleges are shaping business and enterprise.

Over the past few years there has been a change in the approach of colleges when it comes to working with businesses in the training and development of their workforce. They no longer simply direct businesses to their published prospectus, they work with employers, industry specialists, community organisations and awarding bodies to develop and deliver innovative, accredited training and Apprenticeship programmes that fully address the theoretical knowledge, practical skills and industry behaviours that combine to create professional, work-ready individuals.

Bridgwater & Taunton College (BTC) has led the way in this field, creating and developing a world class, innovative and exemplary model of employer engagement that supports and enriches the education, employability and welfare of current and future generations.

The latest Ofsted report for BTC states:

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.

BTC has a wealth of expertise and an excellent reputation that is not only substantiated by nationally-recognised awards and accolades, but is also evidenced by the strong partnerships it has been able to forge with multi-national companies. Within these partnerships it has worked in unique and innovative ways to deliver the training and skills that industry needs.

This reputation has ensured that the College has recruited, selected and trained entire new workforces for major companies expanding into Somerset. It has won Apprenticeship contracts with companies such as the Ministry of Defence, Rolls-Royce, and Wessex Water, and its early engagement with EDF Energy at Hinkley C has led to partnership work alongside key Government departments to articulate and support the delivery of the qualification standards for the nuclear new build roll-out nationwide.

BTC’s Principal, Andy Berry says:

We are seeing a real step change in education, the focus on the creation of employer partnerships means we can focus on creating solutions to fill industry specific skills shortages which benefit our students and local community. This enables companies to develop the skills they need to compete and grow in a global market.

The success of the College’s work with employers hinges on several factors. There is a College-wide ‘can do’ approach, with a dedicated point of contact in the College for each business and an unswerving commitment to exceptional customer service. The courageous, early investment in bespoke learning environments, with genuine collaboration with employers and awarding bodies to develop/deliver innovative, accredited training programmes with a clear line of sight to work is also held in high esteem in industry. This work is built on strong partnerships with the Heart of the South West LEP and other stakeholders, the sharing of best practice, and an unrelenting vision and ambition to be world class.

An example of this trailblazing attitude is demonstrated by BTC being one of the first colleges in the UK to deliver T Levels when courses begin in September 2020 – and the only college in Somerset to offer all three new T Level subjects: Digital production, design and development; Design, surveying and planning; Education and Childcare.

This new technical qualification will give students an exciting new choice and is a great option for anyone looking for an alternative to traditional A Levels. Each two-year study programme provides a Level 3 qualification that combines classroom-based skills and knowledge development with workplace experience. Students will spend around 80% of their time with the College, with the remaining 20% spent at an industry placement. It’s going to be a great combination of approaches that will help them reinforce what they learn in the classroom through real-life experience with a local business.

BTC Vice Principal, Louise Rowley says:

T Levels are a great new option for students who want to learn in the classroom but also want to benefit from hands-on experience with employers. We’ll be working with local schools and careers advisors to help everyone understand the options available, while also strengthening partnerships with businesses to ensure we are building the skills that local employers need.

BTC’s teaching staff pride themselves on forging strong relevant industry links, and for the launch of the T Levels they are looking for dynamic and pioneering employers to become involved, which will involve the commitment to offer an industry placement for BTC students to complete their T Level qualification.

The College’s dedicated Business Development team consult companies on their training needs and requirements based upon an understanding of the business, and help them to make an informed decision by conducting a training needs analysis that focuses on building the skillset required to grow the knowledge base in the workforce.

To discuss how Bridgwater & Taunton College can benefit your business, contact the Business Development team on 01278 655111 business@btc.ac.uk

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