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Bridgwater & Taunton College makes finals of national awards for employer engagement

Bridgwater & Taunton College (BTC) has been selected as one of the finalists for the City & Guilds Award for Colleges Engagement with Employers at the Association of Colleges (AOC) Beacon Awards 2020/21.

The national awards celebrate and recognise the best and most innovative practice among UK further education (FE) colleges and the City & Guilds Award for Colleges Engagement with Employers acknowledges exemplary practice in the delivery of provision: responsive to the needs of employers.

In a period of just 15 years, BTC has progressed from the administration of an ailing land-based college to the management of substantial national apprenticeship contracts in Water Environment Worker (WEW) for key sector organisations such as the Environment Agency (EA), National Trust and the Canal and River Trust.

The delivery of an entirely new standard to a number of brand-new employer partners has required a whole-college approach from tender activity through to delivery, management and evaluation, and this has been so successful that the apprenticeship is now built into the EA’s recruitment strategy, with three cohorts planned each year.

In responding to the EA’s workforce needs, the college has implemented innovative and effective digital training materials that not only respond to the EA’s wider aims of reducing their carbon footprint and minimising travel, but also address a combination of apprentices’ incident response commitments, home life obligations and Coronavirus lock down restrictions.

The apprenticeship is entirely employer driven, providing an effective response to the EA’s need to create a workforce that is competent, safe and fully trained to recognised industry standards, whilst also aligning fully with regional and LEP priorities for productivity and growth.

Rachel Jacobs, Operations Manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Since the introduction of the Water Environment Worker Apprenticeship in February 2020 Bridgwater & Taunton College has provided exemplary course management and support for our Environment Agency apprentices.

“Each learner is supported by a Training Assessor who understands their needs as individuals, providing additional support if required. This helps ensure inclusivity and creates a positive learning environment for our employees.”

Principal of Bridgwater & Taunton College, Andy Berry, said: “It is incredible to be recognised for our engagement with employers. The focus on the creation of employer partnerships means we can focus on creating solutions to fill industry specific skills shortages and enable companies to develop the skills they need to grow.”

The finalist judging process took place in December, with virtual sessions conducted with the panel throughout the day amongst senior management, assessors, employers and apprentices. The prestigious AoC Beacon awards, now in their 26th year, will be held in spring 2021.

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