A Billingham college’s innovative scheme to help tackle future skills gaps has put it in the running for a national award.
Bede Sixth Form College has been named among the finalists for the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) Awards.
With the college chosen by judges as one of the top three in the Enrichment and Employability category, Principal Ben Robinson said: “Our work with students to raise aspirations and offer them the best possible future life chances is a priority at Bede. To have that effort recognised on a national stage is a fantastic achievement.”
Born and bred in Billingham himself, Ben’s ambition has always been to open young people’s eyes to the opportunities that exist.
He said: “By working in close collaboration with employers and the local and combined authorities, we try to equip young people with the knowledge and skills they require to not only pursue their personal ambitions and goals, but also meet future skills needs.”
The college’s Aspiring Engineers programme is the result of one such collaboration, working with employers and the college’s engineering partner, NETA Training, to inspire the region’s next generation of engineers.
Ben said: “With current and future industrial developments looking to increase the demand for a skilled workforce in the Tees Valley, we hope our students can go on to help meet that demand.”
To spark that enthusiasm, the Aspiring Engineers scheme offers first year A level students, who are studying STEM subjects at Bede, the chance to develop their experience and skills by applying their theoretical knowledge in a practical setting.
Piloted this academic year, the students got to take part in masterclasses and workshops at NETA as well as industry site visits alongside their timetabled lessons.
The project earned them a place at the coveted SFCA Awards, Ben said: “Giving aspiring young engineers a real insight into industry can help to shape and define their progress.
“By connecting directly with employers and people who have had highly successful careers in a
range of engineering disciplines, we hope our students will gain a competitive edge in their future careers.”
The SFCA annual awards provide a platform to identify, celebrate and reward outstanding practice by colleges and individuals across the sector.
There are just seven titles up for grabs and the winners will be announced at an online award ceremony at the online SFCA Summer Festival next Thursday (18th June).
Bede Sixth Form College and NETA Training are part of the Education Training Collective (Etc.).