There is an interesting piece in the Guardian today which anticipates a strong focus on skills in the March budget with: ‘more funding to repair crumbling further education colleges, measures to increase the availability of in-career retraining, and a further expansion of apprenticeships.’ The City of Bristol College is a critical strategic partner for the City Council and the Learning City Partnership, and a critical education and training provider for young people and adults who often benefit least from formal education resources. So how does ESL work with the college today:
Strategic Developments – I met Andy Forbes the new Principal for the first time this week, and we will be having regular contact as we push forward the new Learning City Partnership strategy and implementation plan to improve our local Post 16 offer. The College is working with us on important new programmes – including our major ESF project ‘WE Work for Everyone’ to increase the employment of people with learning difficulties. In return, we are supporting the college with major developments too, including their new advanced construction skills centre in Hengrove Park which is planned to open in September 2021.
Community Learning – Elke and Angela are working with the college to strengthen progression pathways from community based learning onto college vocational courses. They have talked about issues at college with attendance and that this often starts in Y5/6 primary school and then carries on into college. To trial some new approaches to transition, parents and young children on our family learning career pilot will get a VIP day at college where they can see college facilities first hand and be inspired for the future. Finally, they’ve organised training for our Learning Ambassador at the College – ambassador volunteers are being provided with a meeting room for free, access to refreshments at the college training restaurant and having a site tour. This is upskilling our ambassador team to understand more about progression opportunities, including hearing from learners who have completed the college Community Development course, and fostering stronger ties and relationships all round.
Early Careers and Pathways – Delyse is engaged in intensive joint planning with college staff to meet the unmet training needs of young people aged 16-18, particularly those who have dropped out or are in danger of disengaging. One of her top priorities this year is to increase the availability of ‘roll on roll off’ provision so that young people can access learning at all points of the year, not just at the start of term in September. Into Learning meetings are taking place every month where the college and other providers can provide updates about their training offer and sign up individual young people who are in urgent need of participation support.
Apprenticeships – Darren, Ian and Tiffany are in regular contact with the college to plan and deliver a fantastic array of apprenticeships in Bristol. For the On Site programme, and the wider
Council Apprenticeship levy programme, the College are a major provider and offer some great training facilities at a range of sites. Through this joint work hundreds of young people and adults are gaining fantastic skills and employment progression opportunities – a major driver of inclusive growth in the city.
Employment Support – each year the college work with Paul, Chris and Lucy to put on the largest Jobs Fair at the South Bristol Skills Academy in Hengrove with a major focus on apprenticeships
and local jobs, supported by Karin Smyth MP. This year the fair is taking place on 27th February, and we anticipate there will be over 60 employers there, providing a great opportunity for local
people to meet recruiters face to face and get that additional encouragement and support with their job searching. The College is also working closely with us to plan and develop supported
internships through Project Search which provides a great pathway from learning into work for people with learning difficulties. Finally, many of our Future Bright participants who are stuck on
low paid jobs are being supported by the college to improve their skills and progress in their career.
So – we are delighted to be working so closely with the City of Bristol College, our local college – a city the size of Bristol has a desperate need for a thriving and top quality college, and when we work together, it’s great that more young people and adults can get access to college resources and learning programmes that can transform their lives.