Ruth Gilbert, CEO of the Career Colleges Trust

For the past three years, we have been working hard with FE partners to establish a network of employer-led, skills-focused Career Colleges.

From South Tyneside and Northumberland to Yeovil and Liverpool, we have certainly reached all corners of the country. We cover a diverse range of industries including digital, hospitality and healthcare – all of which are facing growing skills gaps.

Our aim is to get more young people into fulfilling careers, in industries which offer a huge amount of opportunity. At the same time, we are helping businesses to secure their future workforces at a time when many employers are struggling to recruit adequately skilled staff.

Fundamental to our work is the involvement of employers. Indeed, our Career Colleges are employer-driven and the curriculum of each is designed with input from businesses to ensure the skills being taught are relevant to the world of work. Over the past three years I have been delighted by the amount of support and enthusiasm we have seen from industry and the commitment from employers to help train the next generation.

This commitment was highlighted last week, at the launch of our new pan-London Construction Career College. This project is wholly employer-led, with support from the Career Colleges Trust to bring the various parties together. We are aiming to provide industry-led, quality-assured training programmes aligned to the needs of construction employers.

Led by driving force Grant Findlay of construction giant, Sir Robert McAlpine, the pioneering Career College is being designed to address the clearly-identified skills shortages being experienced by construction businesses across London.

The focus for trainees will be on key construction trades, which have a huge demand for skilled workers. This includes a variety of industry-scale construction techniques such as Structural Frame and Building Envelope, Building Control Systems and Green Technologies.

Most young people and parents I talk to associate construction with low- skilled work and low pay. This could not be further from the truth. Construction is driven by modern technology, skilled professions, and great pay for great skills. It’s time to re-think perceptions and learn about modern methods of construction. 

I am excited about this new Career College - bespoke to the construction industry – which will enable an employer board to drive the delivery of relevant training and enthuse young people about the many career opportunities available.

In this case, employers are taking the lead and coming up with an education delivery model that will effectively train their future workforce. It will offer some incredible career opportunities to young people at a time when we are seeing rising youth unemployment.

Importantly The Pan-London Construction Career College will work range of London and south-east region colleges and training providers to develop its offer. This is a wholly collaborative approach, led by demand.

We launched this pioneering project at the House of Lords last week and I was delighted to see the huge amount of support there is for it. The event was hosted by Career Colleges Founder, Lord Baker and representatives from all areas of the construction industry came along to hear more and indeed, pledge their support.

It is no secret that the construction industry is under pressure to deliver over the next few years. Major developments are planned in both London and other UK cities – including the recently approved Hinkley nuclear site. These simply won’t be able to happen without a large injection of skilled labour into the industry.

As well as persuading employers to get on board with projects like this, I would also urge colleges and training providers to look at ways they can work more closely with employers. We must all look at ways to best meet the needs of industry and our economy, whilst giving young people access to the very best career opportunities.

Ruth Gilbert, CEO of the Career Colleges Trust

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