Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Exciting times at Southport College, a Green Technology Centre, a big boost in apprenticeships and Higher Education

Yesterday I paid a visit to Southport College. I must admit that it is some years since I was last at the college and I was really quite inspired by what I saw. There was so much I could put in this posting but I want to stick to just three items: apprenticeships, The Green Technology Centre, and the exciting new Higher Education Centre.
Now for some time I have been banging on about apprenticeships. Where I grew up in Warwickshire we were surrounded by the manufacturing heartland of country. Many of the people I went to school left at 15 years old and signed on to 'serve their time ' as apprentices in the car industry. Over the years this pathway for youngsters has dried up. Manufacturing has declined. Some even thought that they had discovered a new economic paradigm that allowed them to ignore manufacturing and concentrating on financial services. One of the results of the financial crash has been a re-emphasis on making things. The chief prophet of this approach has been Vince Cable. I understand that having done very little whilst in power for 13yrs the Labour Party has belatedly  endorsed this agenda.

They key initiative taken to encourage apprenticeship by Cable's department led to the apprenticeship package being tailored to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) . This is the programme I was advocating last year. Southport College told me that twelve months ago they had 90 people on apprenticeships today the numbers stands at a very impressive 427! Equally impressive is the number of local employers who have signed up. The College now have more openings for apprenticeships than they do have students.

One of the things that pleased me was the College was taking preparing for the green economy seriously. They have already opened a Green Technology Centre (In fact it was opened by my old colleague and College Governor, Brian Rimmer. Brian as we all know is an engineer). The Centre has been gearing up for the 'Green Deal' training people on a whole range of new green technologies. These folk will be the Green Deal Installers and inspectors of tomorrow. I have no doubt that many new jobs will be created by this initiative and it is good to know Southport will have a trained workforce ready to do the work. It is one important sign that the Government is taking climate change seriously.

The final area that I want to mention is the new Higher Education centre the College has open allowing students to study University level courses in the town. The excellent Katie Oakes (late of the Southport Visiter and now doing exciting things with ITN) wrote an article about this scheme before she left.

"The Centre will offer students the opportunity to study for university level qualifications such as HNDs, HNCs and Foundation Degrees as well as Access Courses in a dedicated building with state of the art facilities. The College said:

Businesses told us they require skilled and experienced individuals while students approached us with concerns about the cost of moving away to study.

“Our Centre provides qualifications at university level right on their doorstep.

“The focus of HND, HNC and Foundation Degree courses is about skills as well as theory; students will graduate from these courses with experience in their chosen field, as well as the knowledge behind it, something a traditional degree doesn’t always offer.”

The University Centre contains brand-new classrooms featuring hi-tech teaching aids, as well as being directly linked to the College’s new modernised library.

Students will also have access to all of the existing college facilities such as a

free gym and on-site restaurants. The courses available are a foundation degree in Children, Young People and Their Services and an HNC/HND in:


Mobile App Development


Graphic Design

Health and Social Care

In contrast to the stark rise in university fees, fees start at just £2,000 per annum"

I was shown round the College by John Clarke, the Birkdale resident who is the Principal, and members of his staff to whom I was to thank. they did a brilliant job in explaining what the College has to offer.

Katie wrote an earlier article which gives more details and outlines the funding implications. Students from low income families already get a better deal from the new government scheme for funding student but this local facility significantly cuts the cost to all student. Finally here is a video which explains the scheme

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