From education to employment

Secretary of State for Education visits Woodlands

The Secretary of State for Education visited Solihull College & University Centre’s Woodlands Campus last week to see the investments being made in its Engineering and Construction facilities. 

The RT Hon Gillian Keegan MP was given a tour of the College’s impressive facilities by Principal, Dr Rebecca Gater, and members of the Senior Leadership Team. 

During her visit, the Secretary of State met with students, apprentices, lecturers, and partner employers. She engaged in detailed conversations with staff to understand how the College is supporting local and regional organisations to fill the skills gaps in industry.  

College Principal, Dr Rebecca Gater, commented:

“Gillian Keegan is a dedicated champion of apprenticeships, and our students, staff and employers enjoyed listening to her experience as a degree apprentice and the only apprentice in the House of Commons. During the visit, the Secretary of State took a great deal of time talking to students about the skills they were developing, and to staff about their experience of teaching; I know this meant a great deal to them.

Our College is proud of the strong relationships that we have with stakeholders, and this visit epitomised that, bringing students and apprentices, staff and employers together with the Secretary of State and DfE officials to talk about skills, apprenticeships and investment.” 

The Secretary of State was highly impressed with the College’s 737 Flight Simulator and Aircraft Hangar and spoke to Aerospace Engineering students about their experience. She was also blown away by the skills on display by plastering and bricklaying students and learnt about the new facility being built to accommodate the increase in local and regional demand for construction skills. 

Visiting the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Institute of Technology (GBSIoT) facility at the campus, the MP spoke passionately about IoTs and how she believes they are a gamechanger for further education (FE).  

The Secretary of State concluded her tour in the College’s Higher Education Centre where she met with supported interns and apprentices from Level 2 to degree level and their employers. She was pleased to learn that apprentice Sophie Young had just received an “Apprentice of the Year” award and heard employers as they shared their desire to strengthen their relationship with local colleges. 

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:

“It was great to meet apprentices, staff, and employers at Solihull College & University Centre’s Woodlands Campus this week. Their investment in new engineering and construction facilities is a fantastic example of how we can meet the increasing demand for high-quality technical skills.

Solihull College & University Centre is a key partner in The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology, which specialises in advanced manufacturing, engineering and digital, and is one of 21 IoTs we’re opening to develop a skilled workforce and drive growth in a modern economy.” 

The visit came following the first speech the Secretary of State has delivered to the FE Sector as the Secretary of State for Education at the Association of College’s annual conference in Birmingham. She shared with delegates her ambition to deliver better opportunities for apprentices and increase investment in the sector. 

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