The launch of a bold new enterprise, to encourage colleges across the region to improve ways they can help students into work, has been welcomed by business leaders.
The regional launch of the Student Employability Toolkit, at The Bournemouth & Poole College, is being hailed as a huge step forward in the approach education professionals use to help students find employment.
More than 50 guests, including local business leaders, council officials and education professionals from other colleges, attended the launch of The MindSet’s Student Employability Toolkit (SET) at the college’s North Road site in Poole.
They were introduced to the Toolkit, an online resource designed to enable colleges to assess and enhance their commitment to helping students into the workplace. College Principal, Lawrence Vincent, who also chairs The MindSet college group which created the initiative, said the Toolkit could be vital in developing and positioning the Further Education sector in its association with employers.
“This relationship is vital for the future of the UK economy, ” he said.
“The SET allows all colleges to look at whether they’re doing everything they can to help students to find employment, and to help employers to hire the right people.
The Mindset group, a collaboration of colleges supported by the REED NCFE Partnership, wants to bring about improvements in the way colleges tackle employment for their students.
Students must have the skills, confidence and knowledge to make a successful move into work. Employers need skilled people but also people with the right attitude to work if they are to create and develop a prosperous and sustainable economy. The Toolkit allows colleges to realistically assess how well they themselves are doing in this task.
Also at the launch lending support were Jenny Williams, Director of Vocational Education and Training at the Education and Training Foundation, and Olivia Ely, a representative from the UK Commission for Skills and Employment.
Alex Bowman, Training Manager for Sunseeker International, which has close links with The Bournemouth & Poole College, talked about the nature of the problem from an employers’ perspective.
“At Sunseeker International we usually recruit about twenty five apprentices each year and on average receive about 300 applicants for these positions. But even with this large number of applicants, we struggle to find apprentices with the correct attitude to fit our high standards. We need young people with a tenacious and optimistic mindset who can communicate and build relationships with their peers. This is what today’s industry needs.''
Alasdair Downes, Executive Director of The REED NCFE Partnership, was able to advise colleges on how the Toolkit works. He said:
“It has been designed to allow FE colleges to seek out, review and further develop the approach to employability in all aspects and at all levels in their institution.”
The REED NCFE Partnership already has close links with The Bournemouth & Poole College through its innovative e Labs*.
The other FE institutions within the Mindset Group who developed the toolkit are Derby College, Highbury College and Milton Keynes College.
*The e Labs, created by REED NCFE in conjunction with the college, operate at both main sites in Bournemouth and Poole have so far placed nearly 2,000 students into employment.