Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Build a Brighter Future; by Liaising Closely with Employers, a Further Eduction College Can Offer Customised Technology Courses for Its Students

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Build a Brighter Future; by Liaising Closely with Employers, a Further Eduction College Can Offer Customised Technology Courses for Its Students

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH RICHARDSON

TAKE a tour around the College of North West London's Willesden campus and you feel as though you are on a construction site. Not because it is struggling to cope with building repairs that are behind schedule, but because nearly 6,000 students in its technology faculty are busy gaining various levels of practical experience.

"The college has links with around 500 employers, from local firms to multinationals, and we're working closely with the contractors for Heathrow's Terminal 5 and with Multiplex, who are the contractors for Wembley Stadium," says Frank Horan, head of technology. "We deliver national qualifications which are recognised by all the sector skills councils, but we also customise. So, if an employer tells us they want 12 employees with particular skills, we use the core of a national qualification and build around it."

Multiplex established its relationship with the College of North West London (CNWL) through the college's one-stop shop, which links local people with careers information and training. "We recruited people from the local community, provided basic health and safety training, placed them with Multiplex and then trained them more when they were in employment," says Horan.

"It became clear that those working on the stadium would require distinctive skills and we agreed that the test rigs and sample panels that the contractor would build as a matter of course would be built in the college. This way, we can train people so they are ready for employment with the stadium when they are needed in 18 months' time."

It is through initiatives like this that CNWL has been recognised as a Centre of Vocational Excellence (Cove). The Government aims to establish 400 Coves in the further education and training sector by 2006, increasing and strengthening links between employers and colleges and developing innovative and flexible approaches to meeting the UK's current and future skills needs.

"Coves can particularly help disadvantaged groups, providing language support as required and learning support for those who have been out of education for some time," says Horan. "People can come to us with no qualifications and we'll take them through to degree status and memberships of professional bodies. …

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