The Skills and Post-16 Education Act was passed on 28 April 2022, paving the way for a range of positive changes which will help transform the skills and training landscape, and ‘level up’ opportunities across the country. The Act underpins the government’s transformation of post-16 education and skills, as set out in the ‘Skills for Jobs’ White Paper.
One of the key measures introduced by the Act is the embedding of employers at the heart of the skills system, placing a legal requirement on colleges and other providers to work with employers to develop skills plans. This would enable the training on offer to meet the needs of the locality. The Act also supports improved access for school aged pupils to meet providers of technical education, so that they can understand the broader range of apprenticeships and T-levels available. In addition, The Act will boost the priority of green skills on offer, supporting the growing green economy development across the UK.
Salford City College Group have a strong and high-quality reputation for their work with employers across the region, demonstrated very recently when the College Group were selected as finalists in the prestigious Association of Colleges Beacon Award ‘Employer Engagement’ category. The Group have apprentices employed by over 550 different employers and work with dozens of employers who support high-quality work experience opportunities for students. These employers support fantastic employer designed initiatives, such as Build Salford, a construction industry-specific traineeship programme.
Rebecca Parks, Group Principal at Salford City College Group, believes continuous high-quality and strategic engagement with employers from across Salford and the wider region is vital to the Group being at the forefront of post-16 education in Greater Manchester. Considerable investment has been made in this area, allowing us to open our Business Centre in Salford Quays and secure a highly effective customer relationship management system. “This major reform to the UK’s training system will help businesses access the skills they need to boost productivity whilst allowing our learners the best opportunities to progress in their chosen careers.”
For the last three months, the College Group has been working with local leading employers to finalise a new strategic concept for their work with employers. Seddon, who employer over 600 people in the construction sector (many from within Salford and Greater Manchester) have supported the development of the Industry Partner concept.
Nicola Hodkinson, Director and Owner at Seddon, has been a key driving force behind the concept, stemming from a firm belief that employers must work hand-in-hand with Further Education if they are going to get the best talent they need to drive their business forward. “It is vital that industry work in collaboration with education institutions to develop the best talent for their future,” Nicola commented.
The concept is now ready to roll out, ensuring employers from across Salford and the wider region play an even greater role in supporting the College. Employers will enhance curriculum through input of expertise and resource, they will continue to provide growing numbers of work placement opportunities and help ensure the College has world class staff by supporting with industry placements and mentoring for College personnel. The summer term will also bring about a fresh round of Employer Curriculum Board activity, where curriculum and delivery leaders from across the Group sit down with employer groups to discuss curriculum development activity aligned to the changing needs of industry.
Allan Milne, Director of Apprenticeships & Employer Engagement in the College is passionate about the Industry Partners concept, believing that more than ever, employers are seeing Further Education as a vital source in their ever challenging search for talent: “In the last quarter, we have more enquiries from employers than in any other three month period,” Allan said, “with most wanting to discuss partnerships and how the College can work with them to develop the people they need for their business. This is music to our ears, and what the Industry Partners initiative is all about”.