From education to employment

Educate North Awards win for The Sheffield College

The Sheffield College team celebrate winning the Educate North Award for employer engagement

The Sheffield College has won an award for its trailblazing work involving employers in the curriculum to ensure students get the skills to go further in their careers.

The College won the employer engagement category of the Educate North Awards, which celebrate excellence in the education sector.

Awards entries were received from colleges and universities across the North. The College was also shortlisted for the innovation and social mobility categories.

Anita Straffon, Deputy Chief Executive and Deputy Principal, The Sheffield College, said: “We are incredibly proud of our employer skills academies which prepare students for their future and go beyond gaining a qualification. This award could not have been achieved without the support from employers who are sponsoring our academies and dedicated to inspiring the next generation.”

Rachel Topliss, Head of Employer Engagement, The Sheffield College, commented: “It is fantastic to receive this recognition. Winning this award is testament to the brilliant employers who are working with us and enabling our students to benefit from industry relevant qualifications and experience to go further in their careers.”

There are currently 17 employer skills academies, involving 15 employers, which support students completing vocational qualifications to develop the skills and industry-specific knowledge that employers need.

The curriculum is co-designed with employers to simulate real-life work and covers the business and enterprise, construction, catering and hospitality, cyber security, engineering, animation and special effects, information technology, mental health and wellbeing, professional make-up, and television and media sectors.

Students work on real life employer-led projects and have the opportunity to take part in workplace or industry visits and placements, workshops, masterclasses and webinars involving industry experts provided by the employer sponsor.

Organisations backing the scheme include City Taxis, Discovery STEM, Greene King, Kier Construction, Kryolan UK, Millgate, MSK Ingredients, NextGen, Screen Yorkshire, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, STEM Education, Uniheads, Wandisco and Work-Wise.

The programme launched in September 2019 and has resulted in two national firsts.

The Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Business and Enterprise Academy provides real-life role models of successful businesspeople from a range of industries to benefit the student community. This is the first time a British Chamber of Commerce has worked with a further education college in this way.

The Uniheads Mental Health and Wellbeing Academy partnership provides all students with free access to online mental health and wellbeing training. The College is the first further education organisation to offer this.

Louisa Harrison-Walker, Executive Director, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: “I am delighted to see The Sheffield College win the employer engagement award – a huge congratulations to the very hard working and committed team there.”

She added: “The employer skills academies programme is a trailblazer and hugely valuable asset to the region. We, in the business community, are incredibly grateful for the excellent work that the College is doing developing the next generation of employees, entrepreneurs and leaders.”

During the last year, the College has been recognised in a series of national awards, which include being a bronze award winner in the BTEC College of the Year 2021 category of Pearson’s annual BTEC Awards.

The College also won an Edufuturist Award 2021 as well as a NEON Award 2021 for widening access to higher education and it has been a finalist in two AoC Beacon Awards 2021/22.

The Educate North Awards winners were announced at a ceremony at the Midland Hotel in Manchester on April 7th. Visit

Pictured: The Sheffield College team celebrate winning the Educate North Award for employer engagement.

Related Articles