Apprenticeships help to transform Gloucestershire firms

Hundreds of businesses are already taking advantage, but many more across the county are still unaware how apprenticeships can supercharge their training needs. Dawn Morgan, of Gloucestershire College, explains how easy it is for them to join the party too.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
Gloucestershire College’s business development team is ready to listen to companies, to build relationships, to help deliver the training firms need, access funding and provide support.

While hundreds of companies are already taking advantage, many across the county are still unaware of how apprenticeships can supercharge their training needs, and how Gloucestershire College is set up to help.

The college’s employer training and apprenticeships team is dedicated to working with companies to deliver apprenticeship and bespoke training to new and existing staff and is keen to hear from new businesses, whatever size, that want to explore their options.

Dawn Morgan, who leads the business development team within the employer training and apprenticeships department, said while lots of companies were benefitting from apprenticeships and support provided by the college, many were still unaware what was available.

It is Morgan and her team's job to sustain existing relationships and connect with new companies to help them understand just how broad the apprenticeship offer has become. There are no age restrictions and funding from government often means training costs are minimal.

‘We have relationships with more than 1,000 businesses and offer 46 apprenticeships pathways from Level 2 to Level 6 (degree) and help train an estimated 1,200 to 1,300 apprentices a year,’ said Morgan, adding that the ultimate aim of all sides was the same – to help everyone succeed and create a vibrant, sustainable Gloucestershire economy.

The Forest of Dean campus of Gloucestershire College in Cinderford.

‘There is still a lot of work to demystify apprenticeships. There is increased awareness with school leavers but often those influencing or making decisions for them are not aware of how apprenticeships have evolved and what the opportunities are.

‘There is wide range of apprenticeships now, from accounting, teaching, marketing, HR, IT and cyber, hospitality and hair dressing through to the more traditional construction trades, to name but a few.

'Many still think they are only for school leavers or for what we call ‘the trades and engineering’. Not realising they are open to anybody aged 16-plus who have an employer and are also available to existing members of staff wishing to upskill.'

Gloucestershire College continues to invest in its success construction sector apprenticeship training programmes.

The college has what it calls 'four pillars' it breaks down its vast array of courses into; IT, cyber and digital; construction; professional services, and engineering and electrical. 

She added: ‘We work in partnership with businesses to understand their training needs. We offer guidance on the Digital Apprenticeship Service, a government tool to access apprenticeship funding.

'Our main goal is to help local companies fill in their skills needs – either by bringing in a new apprentice, for which we offer free recruitment support, or by training existing staff, which is becoming increasingly important.

'We nurture talent and tailor training to the individual needs while providing industry recognised qualifications, all of which has led to us being Gloucestershire’s Training Provider of the Year for three years running.'

Phil Burnham, who is taking on a Level 3 cyber apprenticeship at Gloucestershire College.

Morgan is Gloucestershire born and bred and previously worked at the Royal Forest of Dean College and within the insurance and electrical manufacturing industry in the region. She has a background in marketing, training and assessing – and she has children going through the county school system.

‘I have a vested interest in what the college and the county are striving to achieve’ she said.

Gloucestershire College recently unveiled its Advanced Digital Academy (ADA) suite, a £3 million IT and cyber training centre complete with a cyber degree apprenticeship delivered in partnership with the University of the West of England and recognised by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC - part of GCHQ). Alongside which is a cyber-centric business workspace, run by Hub8.

It is a move, which carefully positioned the college, beside the aforementioned GCHQ, and plugged it into the business community growing in anticipation of the pending nearby multi-million pound Golden Valley Development, which aims to become the UK's focal point of activity in cyber security.

Gloucestershire College's ADA (Advanced Digital Academy) cyber suite, based at its Cheltenham campus, off Princess Elizabeth Way.

‘The opportunities in cyber are incredible, but the benefits of that across all sectors are exciting. All new homes and business spaces will need developing and staffing. The knock-on effects on the economy will drive growth here in Gloucestershire.

‘We have invested in construction skills training, from the new groundworks facility at our Cheltenham campus to the purpose-built construction end point assessment centre in Gloucester.

‘We don’t just turn out students with qualifications, we help train people for the businesses of Gloucestershire now and tomorrow.

We listen to business needs, working with them to deliver apprenticeship standards to support their requirements.

'We are aware there are many more in the county that can benefit from our services and are keen to interact with them.

‘They can pick up the phone, email, drop in and see us.’

And even if you don't know exactly what it is that you want, the employer training and apprenticeship team is there to help with its free training needs analysis.

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