From education to employment

Expanding our students’ horizons is key to their success

FE Colleges are experts in employer engagement. The sector knows how important it is to develop relationships with industry to ensure that learners are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to get good jobs.

Strengthening partnerships with local and regional businesses is a priority for us at Coleg Gwent, particularly in industries that are growing within our region such as digital and cyber.

We want our students to have the opportunity to learn from industry professionals and practitioners so that they get a genuine understanding and insight into a specific sector. Through our CG Ambitions team, we offer students access to external organisations whether that’s signposting funding opportunities, work experience, internships and industry talks. Exposure to a real workplace often inspires young people, making them aware of the many opportunities available after college – locally, nationally and internationally.

A dynamic and fast-moving environment

But the real challenge is the dynamic and fast-moving environment we are all operating in. Industry is changing rapidly with technology moving at such a pace that ‘knowledge’ in a specific area can quickly become outdated.

Therefore, it is crucial that we equip young people with the skills they need to adapt in an agile way. Transferrable skills, such as good communication, work ethic and a drive to succeed are all key. These are the attributes that employers need in their future workforce – but are not always easy to come by.

Entrepreneurial skills are also vital, giving people the opportunity to start their own businesses and ultimately employ others – which is fundamental to a healthy, growing economy. As part of all our full time courses, we look to give students the skills and thinking that make great entrepreneurs.

A consequence if we do not equip our students with a wide range of skills

Our college serves an area which is characterised by high levels of deprivation. As a consequence, this can lead to underachievement and limited ambition. We know that lives can be positively impacted through learning – so by equipping our students with this wide range of skills, they have a much better chance of succeeding in the 21st Century job market.

To ensure this happens, we know that alongside high levels of employment engagement, high-quality academic and vocational learning and fulfilling work experience opportunities – we need to ensure that students are aware of the many career options out there and to sufficiently inspire them to want to pursue those careers.

A recent example

A recent example of how we are approaching this challenge is a unique Film and Gaming event that was organised by The CyberHub Trust.

Hollywood film maker, Kristin Ellingson, came to speak to students about technology, film and gaming, giving them a fascinating, first-hand insight into this exciting, international world. Kristin now works with the AR/VR VFX studio MetaLVX to create virtual experiences, production design and effects for film and television.

The special session included activities, a presentation and a Q&A, all completely hands on and ensuring every student had the chance to ask questions. For many of our learners, who have grown up in and spent all their lives in South Wales – this was a brilliant, eye-opening experience that has truly inspired them.


The job market is constantly evolving and as technology develops, the world continues to become a smaller place. This means there are many more career opportunities available nationally and internationally for young people.

As educators, we must open up these opportunities to our students. We must ensure they are aware of what exists and have access to the right training programmes, and perhaps most importantly, that they are instilled with the confidence, ambition and aspiration to reach their goals – whatever they may be.

By Ian Millward, Faculty Director, Coleg Gwent

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