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Supporting Engineering Apprenticeships

Supporting growth in Engineering Apprenticeships

Bedford College has taken a creative approach to supporting the Engineering sector to grow the number of Engineering Apprenticeships available, resulting in an increase of nearly eight times the number of opportunities being offered through the Bedford College programme compared to three years ago.

Bedford College received feedback from a number of Employers that they were experiencing succession planning issues in their workforce and that a number of smaller local businesses with a very specialised product offer were struggling to recruit the right calibre of young person to their organisation.

Bedford College commenced by reviewing how their provision could be adapted to meet the needs of the employer. This included looking at all stages of the process from the attraction and recruitment of learners through to the design and content of the Apprenticeship itself, ensuring that best practice from across the sector was replicated and that the Employer’s needs were placed firmly at the heart of the programme.

The first breakthrough in growth for the College came in 2010 where a contract was secured to work with a major UK car manufacturer in developing their Apprenticeship programme. This enabled the College to revolutionise their approach to workplace learning and the 20 available Apprenticeship job opportunities attracted hundreds of interested applicants. A detailed recruitment process was followed where applicants were assessed and tested in order to identify the top performing candidates. This in turn created a surplus of motivated and work-ready individuals who were seeking a career in the Engineering sector, but had been unsuccessful in securing one of the spots for the advertised vacancies.

Bedford College decided that this surplus of applicants could not be ignored and that they offered a significant opportunity to be matched with other Engineering Employers from across the area who had reported difficulties in recruitment.

In 2011, Bedford College held their first ‘invitation only’ jobs fair. More than 350 Engineering Employers were personally contacted from across the area. It was explained that there were a number of high calibre young people who had been identified and those Employers with a current vacancy were invited to attend an Engineering Jobs Fair to meet these potential employees. Only the applicants that had scored highly as part of the assessment centre were invited to attend, thus ensuring a high quality event that matched the best with the best. The success of the first jobs fair saw an additional 20 Apprenticeships created.

Throughout 2012, Bedford College has continued to grow their Engineering provision, securing Apprenticeship contracts with a number of major high profile Employers across the South East Midlands area whilst maintaining and increasing provision for smaller Employers with a more niche and specialised business offer.

In 2013 the Engineering Jobs Fair is being held again. This has mainly been driven by Employer demand of the College, requesting that it is repeated following the huge success of the previous year.

The College now operates a wide range of delivery models in order to accommodate the needs of Employers and has developed 11 Engineering framework pathways in order to respond to the increasing range of businesses that it serves and the varying needs of these businesses.

For more information about the Bedford College Engineering programme please contact
Gina Bubbins, Business Development Team Manager gbubbins@bedford.ac.uk