From education to employment

We’re all about giving people the chance to develop their skills – but what about us?

It’s hard to go a week without hearing about the challenges facing the education sector. And with the constant structural changes and new policies, it is easy to understand why.

On top of that, maximising productivity continues to be a challenge for all organisations – including colleges and training providers. Their whole purpose is to help people develop their skills so they can have fulfilling careers. But the FE sector is also a major industry in its own right, and it too needs to think about how to motivate staff, boost productivity and help business growth.

As organisations working in the education sector, we often spend so much time thinking about how to help other people develop their skills. It’s easy to forget about our own skills development.  So the City & Guilds Group was delighted to recognise recipients from the FE and education sector in the first Princess Royal Training Awards; which recognise businesses who had not only invested in high-quality training programmes, but seen business benefits as a result.

In total, 110 organisations applied. Each applicant was then assessed against three Hallmarks of Excellence by the Awards Commission, which comprised of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, President of the City and Guilds of London Institute, and ten leading figures from the business and skills development community.

In total, 33 organisations – ranging from EE, to Wakefield Council, to Dale Power Solutions – were commended for their commitment to staff development, and for successfully demonstrating a link between their training programmes and business performance. Last Thursday, they received their award from by HRH The Princess Royal in a prestigious ceremony at St James’s Palace.

All of the Award recipients demonstrated how taking a tailored approach to learning and development is beneficial to not only individuals, but to the wider community as well.

From the FE and education sector, National Star College, Queensmill School and the University of York received awards for adapting their training successfully to meet their business needs.

National Star College is an independent specialist college offering residential and day courses for people with complex physical and learning disabilities and challenging behaviours. Over the past couple of years it had experienced considerable growth so to support this, the college implemented a flexible and personalised learning and development programme. The result? More engaged staff and more staff progressing through to the next stage in their career.

Queensmill School is an autistic specific school for children and young people – faced a different challenge. The school had expanded and there was a need for highly competent staff to deliver potential life changing opportunities for students. To do this, the team took a strategic and inclusive approach. It focused on improving its knowledge of autism by setting up a Research and Development Board, which helped to ensure the school stayed up-to-date with the latest research and practices.

And the University of York invested in training because the student population increased considerably between 2008 and 2016. Such growth required not only structural change, but effective leadership and management across the institution. 

Keeping our own skills up-to-date is key if we want to strengthen the sector, better-support our learners, and deal with both the changes that have happened, and the changes that are yet to come.

To read about all of the inaugural recipients and to register your interest for the Princess Royal Training Awards 2017, visit

Chris Jones, Chief Executive, City & Guilds Group

Related Articles