Shropshire Businesses invited to launch of College pilot to have a say in the future landscape of vocational education

A number of businesses across Shropshire were invited to a special launch dinner at Shrewsbury Colleges group, which is taking part in a Government pilot to help shape the vocational education landscape of the future.

The move comes a Lord Sainsbury undertook a review vocational education, which resulted in the Post 16 Skills Plan being written. It suggests a change to the current qualification structures and the introduction of 15 new Technical or ‘T Levels.

The recommendations were that the qualifications should better represent the skills that employers want from new recruits with work placements becoming a compulsory part of the suggested 15 routes. Shrewsbury Colleges Group is one of only 15 colleges in the country to be involved, and the only one in the West Midlands. It was chosen based on the number of students it already successfully secures work experience places for.

Some of the new T Levels are expected to be rolled out in 2019 and 2020 and by 2022 all of the vocational routes are expected to be ready for students to start. Under the new scheme, every student taking a T Level will have to complete 300 hours of work experience in order to pass.

Principal of Shrewsbury Colleges Group, James Staniforth, said: “The Government is keen to understand how the work placement aspect will work best, so the Department for Education (DfE) launched a funded pilot project. We are one of these few Colleges. The pilot is about finding the employers to commit to taking on a student for 300 hours work experience, which is approximately 40 days.”

Before July 2018 when the pilot finishes, 168 students at Shrewsbury College will need to undertake 300 hours of work experience with an employer. The areas that the College is working with are Health & Social Care, Media, Music, Construction, Engineering, Catering and Hospitality.

Catherine Armstrong, Group Vice Principal for Curriculum Support and Business Development, said: “We match the students to the employer, monitor the process and feedback to the DfE about the experience for the student and employer. The feedback we give will help to shape the work placement aspect of the qualifications. This is an important opportunity we have been given in Shropshire to really shape the future of training and likewise, for local employers to be able to have a say in what they want the training and skills of their future workforce to be like. We were delighted to be able to host some of our business partners at a dinner in our Origins Restaurant this week, to begin to explain the new T Levels and what it could mean for their businesses.

James Staniforth said the College’s role was a “critical” one, not only in terms of the pilot, but also in terms of educating people in Shropshire.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for businesses, as they have the opportunity to influence the skills, knowledge, and behaviours of their future workforce. It’s also a great way to get to know a student which could lead to an Apprenticeship or employment in the future,” he said.

The College is keen to hear from local businesses with any suggestions, ideas or who would like to be involved. Contact Julia Davies, Work Experience Co-ordinator at [email protected] or call her on 01743 342347.