Azam Muhammad is the Head of Postgraduate and Professional School at St. Patrick’s College. In this article, Azam describes St. Patrick’s partnership with Barclays bank, their Lifeskills programme and how they support the student transition from school to employment.

At St. Patrick’s, we provide vocational focus courses to mature learners and especially support disadvantage learners. We fully recognise and believe that by providing vocational courses with an embedded employability and entrepreneurship can enhance graduates employability in the job market. We provide a wide variety of curricular and co-curricular activities to support our employability agenda that ranges from effective teaching and assessment methods, resources, conducive learning environment, invited guest speakers, industry visits to work placement in the industry.

This year, we have partnered with Barclays Bank to provide our learners the opportunity to gain further insight into employability. This partnership includes our access to Barclays LifeSkills programme and frequent visits from Barclays staff who provide practical workshops to our students on a variety of topics, including business startups, cash flow management, how to create a business plan, how to raise funds for startup and business growth, international trade etc.

The Barclay’s LifeSkill is a curriculum-linked programme which aims to engage and educate learners, giving them access to employability skills and work experience opportunities to support the transition from college to work. This programme is endorsed by the City and Guilds – an independent awarding organisation in the UK.

We have integrated Barclays LifeSkills into our teaching and learning, especially in modules that require employability and personal and professional development. The programme focuses on three critical skills: people skills, work skills and money skills. These are designed to boost learners’ work-readiness, managing people and financial literacy that are key for employability. This programme gives our learner the confidence they need to take their first steps in the working world and at the same time learn the skills they need to complete their course works.

The beauty of the programme lies in its flexibility and ease of access to the platform. Its contents can be easily delivered with the support of the class tutors and Barclays volunteers and the learner can themselves independently follow it online.

As a college, we found that by collaborating with other businesses and communities we are able to provide a better experience to our students when it comes to employability and core skills in vocational education. The learners also feel that these activities add value to their qualifications and they get greater satisfaction when interacting and engaging with experts who come from the industry to share their experience.

As a college, we are building further collaboration with local businesses and communities to ensure that our students are better prepared for the 21st century workplace.

St Patrick’s College began delivering higher education provision in 1998 with a progressive stance in respect of curriculum development and growth. It is now part of the Global University Systems Group (GUS) and has around 2,000 students.

Azam Muhammad has been working with St. Patrick’s College for the last ten years in various academic roles such as Head of Business School, Director of Studies and MBA Programme Leadership in Higher Education Sector. He has expertise in programme development and management and has managed collaborative undergraduate and postgraduate programmes with UK and overseas universities.

He has also been leading many initiatives of Employability, Enterprising and entrepreneurship activities within St. Patrick’s College and heads the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Development at St. Patrick’s.