From education to employment

A real employer and college partnership – providing choice and opportunity

Starting a new job can be difficult at any time. This is especially true for those who have just left school and are embarking on the world of work for the first time, often with some trepidation.

The transition from education to employment is not always easy. It is important that schools and colleges work together with businesses and government to help make that move as seamless as possible.

In order to prepare young people for the world of work, a joined-up approach between schools, colleges and employers is essential, supporting students to narrow the current skills gap and to provide meaningful, inspiring work experience.

All too often, young people are channelled down the ‘traditional’ route of A-levels and university, with the oft-touted view from teachers and parents that vocational courses are for the less academically able.

I want to challenge these outdated views. We need to give young people more choice and open up new pathways to help them seek out rewarding careers.

Having worked in education for many years, I am well aware that we all learn in different ways. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to education isn’t at all helpful when supporting young people in preparing for their future careers.

Schools and colleges need the support of local businesses behind them in order to develop meaningful curricula and improve learners’ career prospects across all specialisms and industries.

With this in mind, I was keen for Yeovil College to pioneer a unique employer/education partnership with our neighbour Yeovil Hospital – one of the area’s largest employers.
Our Health and Care Career College was granted approval by the Career Colleges Trust last year and saw its first student intake in September. It is the first of its kind in the UK and offers 16-19 year olds the opportunity to follow a fully employer-led curriculum. There is a focus on entrepreneurial, digital and employability skills alongside the specialist vocational training and of course, is underpinned by a robust academic grounding.

Students enrolling at our Career College can expect thorough, practical training in health and social care, attending workshops at the hospital on a regular basis and learning directly from hospital clinicians.

With such integral and indeed jointly-led, employer involvement, all our students will be well prepared for the real world of work in a way that so many young people unfortunately aren’t.

The UK is facing a very real skills gap across many industries, and partnerships such as ours with Yeovil Hospital can help address this in a useful and practical way.
As Paul Mears, Chief Executive of Yeovil Hospital, says: “The greatest strength of any business is its staff. Employers need to address their evolving workforce needs by working with education providers to develop industry-led curricula.”

Our partnership with Yeovil Hospital is a great example of this. We are providing young people in the area with wholly relevant training and great career prospects, whilst ensuring the hospital has a skilled and motivated future workforce.

I’ve seen too many students leaving education, often having worked very hard, only to hear from potential employers that they do not have enough experience to get the job they desire.

It is up to all of us – learning providers and employers – to ensure that curricula are robust and rounded enough to fully prepare young people for the workplace.

By providing a very clear line of sight to work and indeed a career, I believe our students will be far more motivated and hopefully keen to achieve as much as they can from their chosen programme of study.

In a time of much uncertainty in the FE world, it is more important than ever for colleges like mine to be innovative and open to new ideas.

Our unique project with Yeovil Hospital is a huge step in the world of employer/education partnerships. I am confident it will provide more choice and more opportunity for young people in the area – as well as helping to future-proof the hospital’s workforce and the region’s economy.

John Evans is principal of Yeovil College in Somerset

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