From education to employment

Edge Q&A: Career College North East

Over the past decade Edge has championed the importance and benefits of high quality technical, practical and vocational education and training, seeking a closer alignment between education and the skill needs of the UK economy.

Edge encourages innovation in education by supporting the creation of new institutions that promote profound employer engagement and address areas of skills shortages for the UK economy. In addition Edge champions projects that will support the effective dissemination of best practice in vocational education and training and have the ability to support further development or replication. All the projects in the series have the potential to become beacons of excellence and exemplars of what can be achieved.

Name of project: Career Colleges

Name of FE College: Career College North East (South Tyneside College and St Wilfrid’s RC School)

Location: South Tyneside

Sector: Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering and Computer Science

What are you doing?

Bringing together a college, school and employers to deliver innovative, technical and quality academic education to 14-19 year olds.

Why is it different/innovative?

It is the first time an FE college has joined forces with a school to set up a Career College. The integral employer involvement is also highly unique, with major employers including Ford Aerospace helping to design and deliver the curriculum.

Qualifications & skills learners acquire

Learners will complete the Baccalaureate, with GCSE qualifications delivered by and at St Wilfred’s RC College and vocational BTEC extended Certificates in Engineering and Computing delivered at South Tyneside College.

Who are your main partners & stakeholders?

The main delivery partners are South Tyneside College and St Wilfred’s RC College. There are a range of industry partners including board of governor members from engineering/manufacturing company Ford Aerospace Ltd (Geoff Ford) and IT global solutions company Accenture (Bob Paton).

There is also an industry advisory board which includes representatives from industry specialists including Liebherr, Cell Pack Solutions, Siemens, Sunderland Software City, and Accenture.

What are your ambitions for development?

To enable young people to pursue a vocational pathway, gaining professional qualifications whilst achieving a high quality academic education; ultimately, leading them into a great job and indeed a career.

Students are exposed to the real world of work, via excellent work experience opportunities and employer involvement and, crucially, within an industry that offers real job opportunities in the local area.

Please tell us about any plans you have for dissemination of the model and how you are sharing best practice:

The Career College network is growing with seven now open around the country. Best practice is shared nationally among colleges and prospective colleges via conferences, the Career College portal and networking events.

In terms of local dissemination we are looking to grow the network of supporting schools and industry partners in both sectors as well as investigating other sector areas which could benefit from the Career College approach.

Employer engagement- how does this tie in to local labour market?

In the initial stages of setting up the Career College, the local labour market was carefully analysed and consideration was given to the potential career/job opportunities available.

There is strong evidence that the region needs enhanced advanced manufacturing and engineering training provision that will meet the current and future requirements of the industry
The engineering and manufacturing sector in the north east is faced with a shortage of skilled labour over the next 5 years. SEMTA, the Sector Skills Council for Engineering and Manufacturing, estimate that up to 8,500 people will retire from the sector and between 3,500 (in engineering) and 20,000 (all manufacturing sectors) jobs will be created in the next 5 years.

The North East Independent Economic Review (April 2013) lead by Lord Adonis, envisages the creation of 65,000 private sector jobs in the next 10 years.

What are the further learning and career path opportunities?

Progression routes have been designed to offer all learners choice and opportunities. At level 3 learners will be able to complete the Baccalaureate, enhancing their BTEC qualification with A-level studies, or a direct apprenticeship route in their chosen sector. Following Level 3 success both options lead to Higher Education pathways, in either full-time programmes or through higher apprenticeships.

Destinations of students following the course- please give any examples where possible:

Career College NE opened in September 2015 so this data is not yet available.

However, the key aim for all Career Colleges is to ensure that every single student progresses into higher education, an apprenticeship or indeed, work/career.

What have been the greatest challenges of the project?

The greatest challenge is the educating of parents and others to the concept of Career College. Great change always brings apprehension no more so than when deciding the education of your child.

What do you see as the biggest achievements around the project?

Although it is early days the biggest achievement so far is being able to offer this fantastic opportunity to the young people of our region in a new and exciting type of education. The response from our industry partners in providing their expertise and valuable work experience for the young people is immeasurable.

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