Burnley College has earned a place in the finals of the Association of Colleges’ prestigious national Beacon Awards for its innovative work with employers to help create the skilled, motivated and innovative workforce of tomorrow and boost the region’s economy.

This month, representatives from Safran Nacelles Ltd, Veka plc, Paradigm Precision Ltd, BCW Manufacturing Group Ltd and Hycrome Europe Ltd joined Tutors, College leaders and Apprentices to discuss the pioneering work carried out in the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence – which has now influenced teaching and learning across every division in College – in a day of intense online scrutiny.

The College’s work with employers has seen it already achieve AoC Beacon Standard and Commended Status to reach the final of the City and Guilds-sponsored Employer Engagement category of the awards which highlight best practice in the education sector. In the finals Burnley College is flying the flag for the North of England against Colleges from Devon and Somerset.

The College’s impressive entry to the annual awards focussed on the development and impact of the North West Engineering Advisory Board. The group was founded by the College some six years ago to help facilitate collaborative working and align education and training provision to the needs of industry. It now has a membership of more than 30 and is led by employers whose input is integral to the development of the College’s course offer, facilities development and specialist staff recruitment.

The entry highlighted how the College and employers’ symbiotic relationship has proved particularly effective during the Covid-19 pandemic in supporting business resilience, change management, diversification and problem-solving. It also showcased how the Advisory board model had been expanded to now embrace additional industries and sectors, as well as professions, to shape additional areas of training provision and allow the sharing of best practice and resources.

Neil Burrows, Director of Themis, the College’s Apprenticeship Training Arm, and North West Business Training, the College’s bespoke training provider for the business community, said:

“We are extremely proud to be recognised in the top three Colleges in the country for our work with employers and would like to thank every business which has helped us to reach this achievement.

“Close links between the education sector and industry have never been more important. Our region’s future success and prosperity depends on our ability to work together to create a dynamic, highly-skilled and motivated workforce of the future and the business community having the tools and knowledge to ride the current and future economic storms through additional training and support.”

The College’s award entry focussed on how discussions within the Engineering Advisory Board had transformed the delivery of engineering courses and training aligned to its vision of ensuring students and Themis Apprentices have the hands-on skills, specialist knowledge and attributes to meet the current and future demands of the region’s engineering employers, large and small. This has led to:

  • The engineering curriculum and training delivered to students aged 16-19 focussing on skills rather than classroom theory, to create a dynamic, innovative workforce
  • The number of engineering courses offered increase in line with industry demands and specialisms
  • The number of Themis Apprentices rise from 100 to 520 and the number of students and Apprentices progressing to university-level qualifications tripling
  • The College being named North West Aerospace Alliance New Talent Training Provider of the year for two consecutive years
  • The expansion of the successful Advisory Group/Forum model being rolled out to other industries and areas of expertise including Human Resources, Construction Professions and Digital Technologies
  • The development of a pioneering Pre-Apprenticeship programme to support employers’ future recruitment plans and ensure the very best potential apprentices are not lost to industry
  • The implementation of Destination Recovery, a multi-faceted support programme offering employers access to the very latest training, change management and business resilience/agility modelling.

Investing more than £4 million in its expanding Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, the College has recruited industry experts, with years of experience in their chosen specialisms, and fitted its workshops with the latest industry-standard equipment and technology with the support of employers, including Fort Vale Engineering Ltd, Futaba Manufacturing UK Ltd, BooHoo, Safran Nacelles Ltd, WEC Group Ltd, Orthoplastics Ltd and Hycrome Europe Ltd.

Neil Burrows added:

“The role that employers play in the life of Burnley College cannot be underestimated. Their input, their expertise and their generosity with their time and resources is invaluable to students and Themis Apprentices alike. They help to make learning come alive; support students in developing the attributes that will make them stand out from the crowd and have been instrumental in Burnley College being recognised as the Number 1 College in England in the latest Government achievement tables for students aged 16-18.

“We are proud that this collaborative working has been recognised as being among the very best in the UK and are looking forward to hearing if we have been successful in the finals in early February.”

Are you a business looking to work with the Number 1 College in England to transform education and training within your sector? Do you want to access the very best sector-specific training, led by trusted and highly-respected industry experts? Whatever your business size or sector, we’ll be happy to work in partnership with your business. Find out more via www.burnley.ac.uk/employer, contact 01282 733005 or email employer@themis.ac.uk.

For more member news, click here.