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    The Career Colleges Trust held its third Annual Conference yesterday, celebrating the growth and success of its network.
    20 Career Colleges will be open around the country by the end of this year, specialising in six growth industries: digital, engineering, hospitality, healthcare, construction and professional services.
    The theme of this year’s conference was Building Skills for Business in an Education Revolution and speakers focused on the importance of preparing young people for the world of work.
    CEO Ruth Gilbert opened the conference – introducing founder and trustee, Lord Baker.  He spoke about the importance of career-led education, saying:
    “The digital revolution will mean less jobs, not more. Driverless vehicles, delivery drones and many other technologies will replace traditional jobs and we need to ensure young people have the skills they need to pursue successful careers.
    “Career Colleges are providing students with a high quality technical and vocational pathway – and I am delighted to see our network is expanding so that more young people and indeed, employers, can benefit.”
    The Trust’s new Chairman, Roger Dawe, also spoke and highlighted the many changes that have taken place to the FE landscape over the past few years and looked ahead to the future. Roger commented:
    “It is crucial that we see a continuing commitment from the Government to the importance of vocational education and training. This is key for both economic growth and to enable students on the vocational and training routes to develop their skills to the full – so that they can enter satisfying and prosperous careers.”
    Other speakers included Martin Doel, who talked to delegates about the new T-Levels and Apprenticeship reforms. He spoke about the importance of rigour within the new system and that “…T-Levels should be for the few, not the many, and certainly not for those who can’t do A-Levels”. Martin also praised the Career Colleges Trust, and its Colleges, for continuing to grow and develop the network without any Government funding.
    John Evans, Principal of Yeovil College spoke about how he “…thrives on doing things differently”. He highlighted some best practice relating to work placements and the importance of linking them with apprenticeship teams for progression and growth.
    An employer’s view was then provided by Grant Findlay, head of pre-construction at Sir Robert McAlpine. Grant talked about the qualities his industry needs to see in new recruits – ranging from understanding of a normal working day to well-developed digital skills. He also highlighted that “…employers are looking for young people who are proud of what they do” and the fact that there will be 179,000 construction jobs created by 2021.
    After lunch, delegates heard from another employer – digital infrastructure expert, Andrew Stevens, CEO of CNET. Andrew explained in a powerful presentation ‘digital disruption’ that digital is “…the fourth utility and the most important of all”, making the world a much smaller place.
    CCT Student PanelCareer College students were then given the opportunity to tell delegates about their experiences. Students from BMet, Harrow and Barking & Dagenham Colleges talked about the digital project they undertook with Amazon Web Services in an excellent presentation.
    Alun Owen from Hugh Baird College also brought along some students to answer questions about their experiences. 14-16 student Megan commented that “…working with employers as part of my college course has enabled me to get part time work”.
    The last presentation of the day was from Lincoln College’s Rick Long, who highlighted the benefits of collaborative partnership with employers.
    2016/17 has seen over 1000 Career College students studying at 12 Career Colleges around the country. Over 1000 work placements have been undertaken and the network will expand to 20 in September.
    CEO of the Career Colleges Trust, Ruth Gilbert, said: “It has been another exciting and productive year for the Trust. We are extremely grateful to our Career Colleges – tutors and students - for all the hard work they have put in and of course, the supportive employers, without whom we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have done.
    “With 20 Career Colleges in operation from September, our network continues to grow. This will not only help young people achieve fulfilling careers, but will help employers address their growing skills gaps in expanding industries.
    “Today’s conference has provided the Trust with a wonderful opportunity to hear more about the work being done by our colleges and also, the work being planned for next year and beyond.”

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