Member Article

Coventry College supports programme to get West Midlands back into work

Further education colleges across the West Midlands, including Coventry College, have joined forces to help get local people who have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic back into work.

More than 5,000 adults are set to benefit from free training over the next year in a major new programme, funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority, to help them gain jobs in one of the region’s growth sectors.

In the first initiative of its kind in the country, all 20 colleges across the West Midlands have pooled their expertise to offer a region-wide skills recovery programme called ‘Reignite Your Future’.

Any adult living in the West Midlands can join short sector-based work academy programmes, which usually last up to six weeks. Sectors include construction, digital, health and social care, engineering and logistics, with a guaranteed interview for everyone who completes the course.

All the courses are free of charge, and unemployed residents can take part without losing their benefits.

Those who successfully gain jobs could also be eligible for Workwise travel support of half-price travel on selected West Midlands bus, train and metro travel passes for three months to help them on their way to work, from West Midlands Network.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, who launched the initiative today at a virtual event with all the colleges, hosted by Solihull College & University Centre, said: “Retraining and upskilling are critical to our region’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Tragically as a result of Covid, people are losing their jobs in the region, so training in the skills that employers need is a crucial way to help people get back into employment quickly.

“It’s great that all 20 colleges across the region are working together to help get local people into the jobs of the future. I would urge anyone who has fallen out of work, is worried about their job prospects or just wants to increase their skills, to think about retraining for a new career.

“Our local colleges have been leading the way on training in recent years, particularly in the construction, digital, engineering, warehousing and health and social care sectors. As well as funding the training through our adult education budget, we also work with our partners in local authorities, Jobcentre Plus and the National Careers Service to make sure there are jobs available at the end of the training.”

Each sector-based work academy programme is supported by one or more employers looking to recruit future staff. Adults benefit from employment training at college, a work placement and a guaranteed job interview at the end of the programme.

Gemma Knott, Assistant Principal for Business Growth at Coventry College, added: “As Coventry’s leading further education provider we are extremely proud to be supporting this vital initiative.

“Colleges play a vital role in nurturing existing and future generations of talent, and their presence is important now more than ever as thousands of people made redundant by the Covid pandemic look for new routes back into employment.

“We are looking forward to working with a variety of stakeholders across the region over the coming months to help adults and young people back on to the career ladder - whether that is through an apprenticeship, one of our many vocational courses, or via an Access to Higher Education route.”

Also available for local people through ‘Reignite Your Future’ are part-time technical training programmes, which support residents wishing to upskill or change career direction. They provide adults with the technical skills needed to gain employment in the sectors where the West Midlands anticipates a growth in job opportunities, such as digital industries, construction and health and life sciences.

Lowell Williams, Chair of Colleges West Midlands, said: “It’s great to see all West Midlands further education colleges coming together to launch this major initiative for adults. We now have a comprehensive skills offer for adults across the region that focuses on employment as the end goal. All they need to do is contact their local college and support is on hand.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Matt Joyce .

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