Coleg y Cymoedd is a Welsh College that has reputable links with employers, engaging with industry to meet the needs of learners, staff, the organisation and external stakeholders. In this article, the college discusses some of ways in which they build relationships with employers and work towards developing partnerships. They also provide some fascinating case studies of how this has already proven to be effective.

Employer engagement is key to the planning and development of the course offer, ensuring that it equips learners with the right skills to meet industry needs. Strong links with employers also affords learners the opportunity of real work through work placements, continual professional development and skills updates for staff. 

The College works with over 800 employers throughout the organisation and local employers serve on the College’s Governing body and inform strategic and operational decision making. Governors use their industrial and commercial experience to benefit the development of the curriculum. 

Networking is a key focus for Coleg y Cymoedd and members of the Senior Leadership Team and Managers sit on industry related boards, and our staff are encouraged to attend employer events where relevant. In addition to this, the college Employer Engagement Officers and Work Placement Officers continue to consistently maintain high levels of contact with employers.

Coleg y Cymoedd has a demonstrable reputation for excellence in work based learning and educational excellence. The College provides work based learning for a wide range of companies and the retention and attainment level for work based learning has been exceptional, with companies returning year on year to train their apprentices and existing staff.

The College also delivers training to a large number of organisations each year via its Business and International Services where they provide both off the shelf courses and tailored training, basing the course offer on labour market intelligence and offering courses to fill apparent skills gaps in companies. 

Case studies

Railway

Coleg y Cymoedd has joined forces with McGinley Support Services to offer an exciting new Railway Apprenticeship Programme, which launched back in September 2014. The programme had been developed following an announcement by Network Rail of a £2 billion Electrification Framework Programme over the next seven to ten years involving improvements across Wales and the rest of the country.

A £2.2 million investment to create the new Centre of Excellence for Railway Training – complete with full scale railway track – will equip young adults with the knowledge to work in the rail track industry. The purpose built training facility at the College’s Nantgarw Campus will allow individuals seeking employment to develop the skills needed and there are a number of transferrable skills such as building works, trades and electrical trades which can be migrated across the railway environment.

GE Aviation

Coleg y Cymoedd and GE Aviation have worked together for more than 30 years. This co-operation has seen both parties benefit and grow as a result, providing jobs for many learners over the years.

At the heart of the partnership is an apprenticeship programme, aimed at aircraft engineers and GE Aviation, which achieved an impressive 95 per cent success rate. The apprentices bring fresh talent and enthusiasm to the factory that provides engine overhaul services for the aerospace industry. The apprentices who are the employees of the future are trained in the skills needed by the company to secure future overhaul work.

Motor Vehicle

Completion of the multi-million pound Motor Vehicle Training Centre of Excellence in Ystrad Mynach is set to put learners from the area at the forefront of major developments in the industry in South Wales. 

The £2.1 million facility at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach campus will meet the growing demands in the industry for state-of-the-art training facilities. The new centre will provide industry-leading motor vehicle repair, maintenance workshops, as well as diagnostic and testing facilities for over 60 learners each year.

Multiple investment opportunities in South Wales – including St Athan as a main contender for the new location of Aston Martin’s next production centre, Ford’s £181 million investment into Bridgend and a possible multi-million pound automotive factory development in Ebbw Vale – could significantly expand the motor vehicle industry in region.

The full time learners currently on the Motor Vehicle course at Coleg y Cymoedd will not only perfect their trade at the new facility, but position themselves as skilled workers in line to fill a potentially huge labour force in the South Wales.

Shared apprenticeship

The programme for the Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone is a strategic partnership between education, industry and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council to enhance skills development within manufacturing and engineering companies. It aims to enhance business growth whilst tackling unemployment, and also to provide aspirational opportunities for young people within the local authority.

It is important we maintain an interest in supporting and developing businesses in the local area and further afield. We supply business advice through our extensive training needs analysis and help support companies in providing education and training that is high quality, industry standard and responsive to the labour market.

Do you relate to these case studies? Do you want to develop similar programmes in your environment? Tell us on social media with the #VEexchange hashtag.