Education and Training

'Call to arms' to Gloucestershire employers – now is the time to choose the talent for the future

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 21 October 2020 10:11

'Call to arms' to Gloucestershire employers – now is the time to choose the talent for the future

Beat away the thick clouds of covid-related gloom and it becomes clear huge blocks have been pushed into place to ensure the county’s economy can build for the future.

Speaking to business people as part of the Evans Jones Online Property Forum – fittingly called ‘Building for the Future’ - the talk was upbeat from one of Gloucestershire’s key engine rooms.

As the county’s biggest education provider, Gloucestershire College – with its 800 students, 1,000 staff, 50 apprenticeship courses at all levels, HNDs, HNCs, and affiliations to most professional services – has been repositioning itself for the brave new world.

What is clear, according to Alison Townsend, the college’s head of marketing, is there is plenty to be positive about – not least a new partnership with one of the county’s most significant business groups, Circle2Success.

While she introduced the considerable infrastructure investment, potential of the new cyber facilities, not least at degree level, and strong partnerships with business and the community – she issued what amounted to a rallying cry to companies to consider future talent now.

“Among all the doom and gloom of covid. I think it is important focus - we are starting to see the shoots of economic growth. We are seeing employers approaching us.

“The number of apprenticeships we are being approached about is increasing. I think that is very encouraging to see. We are resilient, we are a very supportive business network.

“But what I am incredibly proud of is that we have a fantastic talent pool of businesses here who are waiting to be given these opportunities,” said Ms Townsend, adding that the college was ready to provide.

“This is a call to arms to employers in the county. We know we have fantastic talent – we have got great facilities, thanks in no small part to GFirst LEP, but it is up to employers to offer up those training opportunities – whether that is Kickstart or traineeships or apprenticeship schemes to help future proof our community.”

The college already works with 1,200 employers from the giants of Safran, G-Tem and Superdry to Cowley Manor, tech firm Bamboo, Malmaison, Suntory, Laura Leigh and Renishaw, and is accredited by the University of the West of England and Birmingham City University.

But the new partnership with Circle2Success means the Gloucestershire business group will be working to encourage its members to look hard at the opportunities of the Kickstart scheme.

“We are working with C2S to be a mediator for the kickstart scheme and traineeships. The press often couch this, and I am not comfortable with this term, as ‘try before you buy’, for companies that are not ready to commit to a two-year apprenticeship.

“They can have someone for a shorter period of time and see how that goes with relative encouraging incentive schemes from the Government as well.”

Introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak Kickstart is aimed at 16 to 24 year olds and funds employers to create new six-month job placements for these young people.

The government cover 100 per cent of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions with the aim being that each young person receives invaluable, paid work experience and the opportunity to develop their skills.

A team from the college’s Business Hub, headed up by Julie Tegg and sales manager Myra Billinghurst, is already working closely with employers. As a result of some of those conversation changed how it is delivering apprentices and courses this year.

The college has ‘front-loaded’ the year with academic studies for some in the anticipation that workplaces will open up later in the college year to allow work-based training to be completed.

“A lot of apprentices usually start in September, but we have changed them to start in January,” said Ms Townsend.

To find out more visit the Gloucestershire College website Kickstart or Business Hub pages.