People & Skills Projects - 24 July 2014

Derby College targets key sectors to provide workforce with the necessary skills

Dovetailing with the jobs market and the education system is the holy grail of the relationship between education and enterprise.

However, in the wake of Local Enterprise Partnership D2N2’s Growth Strategy, Derby College has latched on to its priority sectors. It has begun a process to bring the needs of businesses and the college’s training provision more closely than ever before.

Derby College works with nearly 1,000 employers both in Derbyshire and around the country, mainly those with fewer than 50 employees.

D2N2 has set its priorities and Derby College has set itself the task of providing the skills the modern economy needs.


Of course, Derby’s economy has its foundations in the design and production of jet engines, trains and, more recently, the assembly of vehicles for Toyota. The supply chain for the likes of Rolls-Royce, Bombardier and Toyota is also hungry for skills and so Derby College has developed a range of engineering programmes to develop the workforce of the future.

The college’s group director of apprenticeships and engineering, Neil Fowkes, said: “We work closely with employers to ensure that the full-time, part-time and work-based programmes that we deliver are in line with the skills that they require in the short, medium and longer terms.

“Derby College offers high-quality engineering training programmes both to existing employees who want to upskill and to young people looking for a full-time course before going on to an apprenticeship, university or into work.

“We also work in partnership with employers to support their apprentices who want to combine their training with earning a wage.”


Of increasing significance is the transport and logistics sector.

Given Derby’s central position in the country, it is an important location for warehousing and distribution.

The Local Enterprise Partnership has recognised this fact with transport and logistics part of its growth strategy.

To ensure that this expanding sector has the skills it requires, Derby College is planning to launch the UK’s first bespoke apprenticeship programme for logistics.

Initially, it is concentrating on the haulage industry, working with Isobel Harding, former skills development manager at the Freight Transport Association.

Logistics experts AIM Commercial Services are also part of the scheme to launch the apprenticeship programme in September next year.

Mrs Harding said: “To address the skills gap we need to have an inflow of young people into the industry but logistics is rarely discussed in schools and colleges as a career option. There is also a negative perception of the industry as low-paid and male-dominated.

“The training costs are also prohibitive, with between £3,000 and £8,000 to get a licence to drive specialist equipment and vehicles, from forklift trucks in warehouses to the larger articulated lorries. This is a prohibitive mountain to climb for many.

“The transport industry recognises that there is an issue and, as we come out of the economic slump, many businesses are not going to be able to grow or cope with the rising demand in the need to transport goods. A bespoke apprenticeship scheme is therefore the answer.”

Mr Fowkes believes that major companies are operating apprenticeship and training programmes to different levels and standards.

He said: “We are therefore developing an apprenticeship programme that could be adopted across the whole industry to provide consistency and higher quality standards to give young people a foothold in the industry.

“This will support young people into the industry and give them the technical competencies, training and the wide experience of many of the areas of logistics that they need for career choice and employment.”


Food and drink manufacturers are also being targeted for support by D2N2 and Derby College. This industry is rarely hit too hard during times of economic turmoil, given that sustenance is not part of anyone’s discretionary spend.

Factories require electrical and mechanical engineers to keep the machinery running and machines need maintenance. With this in mind, Kerry Foods is working with Derby College to meet its ongoing need for engineers.

The multi-national company produces chilled meals for Tesco as well as Innocent smoothies. It employs some 1,100 people at its Mosley Street site.

Site engineering manager Graham Blair said: “We’d run our own apprenticeship schemes in the past but decided it was time to formalise the way in which our engineers are trained. Kerry Foods is currently undergoing major site transformation to prepare for future growth so we needed to assess our ongoing skills requirements.

“As a company we benefit from employing people who have been trained in our systems, processes and workplace culture right from the outset.

“And the job prospects are good. We are committed to offering our apprentices permanent roles in the skills they’ve been trained in once they complete their three years of training.

“Food manufacturing is subject to rigorous health and safety regulation so it’s vital our apprentices are highly disciplined as well as competent both practically and academically. All of our apprentices are making good progress.”


Food and drink manufacturers do not experience the peaks and troughs that the construction sector have to navigate. Today, the industry is on a roll, with bricklayers able to earn the best part of £1,000 a week.

To help meet demand in construction, multi-million-pound investments have been made at Derby College’s Pride Park and Ilkeston sites.

The 10,000 sq ft Hudson building in Pride Park has capacity for around 1,000 learners in bricklaying, joinery and carpentry, painting and decorating and plastering. And the new £10 million Pimlico campus, in Ilkeston, also offers construction training. It has new programmes in tiling and multi-skills construction.

Derby College chief executive Mandie Stravino said: “With the construction industry expanding and trading conditions improving, we are seeing increased demand from employers for apprenticeship training, from young people for full-time courses and from adults who either want to update their skills or retrain to improve their job prospects.

“The Hudson Building and Ilkeston campus give us the capacity to increase learner numbers and expand the skills training opportunities to better serve the needs of construction industry and the local community.”


Unlike the construction industry, the visitor economy can dip beneath the radar, though it contributes many millions of pounds to the county’s economy and employs thousands of people.

Former Derby College catering and hospitality student Daniel Rees-Jones was one of the first students to be part of the Culinary Arts Academy at The Roundhouse. He went on to win the Young Chef of the Year award at the Derby Food and Drink Awards 2010. Now a duty manager at the Seven Wells, in Etwall, he has his sights set on running his own business.

His boss, Fred Pruden, said: “It definitely helped that Daniel had experience of working in the restaurant at college and had completed his core qualifications.

“He also recognised that working in this industry is more than just a filler job; it is a career opportunity and he has shown the interest and drive that is just what we want in our staff.”

Mr Rees-Jones enjoyed food technology at school and decided that the culinary arts course was ideal.

He said: “I learned so much, both front-of-house at the Engine Shed restaurant and in the kitchens and I applied for a part-time job at the Seven Wells in Etwall while I was at college.

“Having the work experience and qualifications gave me the edge over the other applicants and when I finished my course I was offered a full-time job. I am continuing with my training and I hope to run my own pub and restaurant in the future.”

While he sets his sights on running his own establishment, the next stage for the college is to create a centre for conferencing and look towards the future.

By targeting D2N2 priority areas such as IT, life sciences and low-carbon technology in the future, Derby College is moving closer to enterprise and taking its students along as well.

Source: Derby Telegraph

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