From education to employment

Brecon Beacons College Move to Provide More Opportunities for Local Employers

The relocation of Brecon Beacons College (part of NPTC Group of Colleges) to Brecon town centre presents a major opportunity for local employers to engage students in local work placements and activities. Speaking at an Employer Engagement event hosted by the College on Thursday, the Acting Principal of NPTC Group of Colleges Catherine Lewis presented the relocation plans to local delegates, along with new artist impressions of the buildings.

The Acting Principal believes the event, held in y Gaer, “was a fantastic opportunity to link with key stakeholders including businesses, the local authority, schools and voluntary organisations” in advance of the move into the town centre, adding the event “has set the stage for further collaboration to ensure we can meet the needs of the local community and employers.”

The relocation of the College was announced in May and involves the former library building on Ship Street and Watton Mount being transferred to the College by Powys County Council. The repurposed buildings will aim to provide a ‘university feel’ campus with educational facilities fit for the 21st Century and will join the CWTCH (the former Tourist Information Centre), which was opened in 2020 as the College’s ‘Hub in the Community.’

Over fifty representatives of Powys businesses, public services and community groups met for the Employer Engagement Event to hear about the benefits of the move as well as how the College can collaborate to ensure students are encouraged to work in local trades both during and after their education. A key part of the event was to better recognise how the College’s courses and students can contribute to local organisations and to find new ways of retaining qualified people in the Powys workforce.

Giving perspective on how the move has already strengthened the College’s connections and student experience, Lead Tutor Robin Flower spoke about how the CWTCH had been an excellent community venue for a recent collaboration with Brecon Jazz Festival. Drawing on the Business & Management students’ summer event with the Festival, Robin took the audience through the process of the collaboration, saying “I have experienced first-hand how exciting it is for our students to work with local organisations and employers for placements and coursework, most recently by working with the Brecon Jazz Festival.”

In summary, students of the College’s BTEC in Business & Law assisted the Jazz Festival by managing a video and musical performance event outside The CWTCH in June. This came after a year of planning and meeting at The CWTCH with Festival representatives.

Summarising his presentation, Robin added: “Our collaborative jazz event took place at The CWTCH, our Community Hub, which made our work easy for the Festival to find and access. As more of the College moves into town, I believe this will open up more opportunities for local employers and community organisations to work with our talented students, ensuring they are engaged in the area.”

Coordinators of Brecon Jazz Club, Lynne and Roger, had joined the audience also and were enthusiastic about seeing how well their partnership with the College had worked for all involved, saying:

“Many people have said that the August Jazz Festival was one of the best they’d attended, and the contribution of the BTEC and degree students in creating a video showreel and their amazing ‘Taster’ day, with a jazz ensemble, big screen, proactive fundraising and involvement, was a major contributor to this. It would be fantastic to continue this collaboration with such talented people and the ‘can do’ College management into the future.”

Also presenting at the Employer Engagement event was Jacqui Gough, Director of SWG Group, who showcased a blueprint for how the local construction industry can engage Powys students from a young age. Ms Gough explained the working of the SWG Group’s Construction Academy, which offers site visits and practical trade activities in schools. Now in its third year, the Academy has 24 students engaging in local Construction work, and delegates at the event were inspired by this achievement.

On the presentation to fellow delegates, Jacqui Gough said:

“It was fantastic to see the amazing turnout of local businesses, education providers, and community groups coming together to discuss how to support Powys’ young people to thrive in their educational journey and subsequently their future careers.

“The positivity and enthusiasm for enriching students’ education was palpable and I am excited to be part of, and see these opportunities develop and come to fruition.”

Having met with representatives of a range of local organisations, the aim now is for the College to meet regularly with stakeholders in order to strengthen the chances of students entering local employment both now and when the town centre move has happened.

Meetings going forward will take place with Gemma Charnock, NPTC Group of College’s Vice Principal for External Relations, who said: “We look forward to further engagement and the establishment of the South Powys stakeholder engagement group.

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