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PCSOWest Midlands Police (WMP) recently launched an 80-place Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Apprenticeship programme and are keen to encourage local people to apply for available roles.

In partnership with South and City College, Bournville College and Job Centre Plus, a course was developed exclusively to support Job Centre Plus clients with application and interview techniques to gain access to PCSO jobs and a level 3 Customer Service Apprenticeship program with the force.

The programme engaged with candidates via Job Centre Plus to offer them the opportunity to join a three week pre-employment program. Initially over 60 candidates attended the assessment day, of which 13 candidates where successful and were invited to join the programme. On completion of the course each candidate was guaranteed a telephone interview, which was the first stage of the PCSO recruitment process.

Dawne Hay, Trainer said: “Working with West Midlands Police and designing and developing training to meet their specific customised specialist training was very interesting and challenging.

“As the tutor it was extremely rewarding to work with students who were so motivated and focused. It sounds like a cliché saying we went on a journey together, but we really did. Unemployment affects our confidence and to witness meeting them at the start of the programme and comparing the changes at the end of the course, it was clear to see a dramatic improvement of their personal and vocational development.”

The focus of the PCSO pre-employment course was customer service and communication skills which are key features of the job role. It was also important for the students to have an understanding of basic human behaviour, and whilst on the course, they learned how to tackle problems within the community, how to manage conflict and how to handle difficult situations.

Throughout the intensive, customised course, the students received a comprehensive presentation from the WMP Recruitment Manager and a visit and presentation from a PCSO to discuss the role and answer questions. JCP provided support, advice and guidance to the students, and worked on a one to one basis to ensure benefits were not affected by course attendance, that travel expenses were provided and that Job Centre appointments were re arranged and did not impact on attendance of the training course.

Students who successfully completed the pre-employment course were automatically invited to the telephone interview stage of the PCSO recruitment process, and if successful they would be invited to an assessment centre which includes a face-to-face competency based interview plus a case study activity. The final stages of the recruitment process includes the completion of vetting information, a medical and a fitness test.

The recruitment process is an intensive process and can take many months to complete before applicants can be offered a start date in the role.

During the different stages of the process, the college intends to support the Job Centre Plus students further by helping them to continue to improve their written English skills, which will be a valuable asset when working as a PCSO.

Jayne McCracken, Recruitment Manager at WMP said: “I am delighted that there has been so much interest in the PCSO role, and that local people have committed to a training course which will improve their chances of gaining employment as a PCSO. I witnessed first-hand the difference that

this programme has made to the participants' confidence levels and self-belief and look forward to working with some of the course participants in the future.”

Chris Fowler one of the candidates on the course said: “Before I was accepted onto this course I was working as a refuse collector.

“I attended the assessment and was very proud when I heard I had passed and been accepted for the course.

“I want to be a PCSO as I feel I can help make a difference in the community by keeping the public safe and building up important relationships. I hope to be a friendly face that the public feel they can approach.

“I will feel a more responsible person if I am accepted into the force and will be very proud of the career path I am starting.”

Tuesday, 07 February 2017 10:43

Construction workshop inspires next generation

Budding Brunels

Working with Construction Youth Trust - a charity that helps young people in England and Wales into careers in construction - the group from Aston University Academy of Engineering and South & City College Birmingham have spent three days in the city on a discovery mission exploring all aspects of the construction sector providing a detailed understanding the range of roles available in the sector, Construction Youth Trust's Budding Brunels programme.

The group visited the site of 55 Colmore Row where Morgan Sindall is delivering a £30 million (€35 million) redevelopment for IM Properties which is transforming the building into 160,000 sq ft of space in the heart of the city.

On day one, the students, in four teams of five members, were assigned roles and guided around the development by a team of graduates from the contractor's project delivery teams.

Then, over the next two days, the newly appointed architects, project managers, quantity surveyors and structural engineers applied what they had learned to an imaginary brief to deliver a new building on the site of 55 Colmore Row. Drawing on their new knowledge of the roles, the students first prepared and then explained their proposals to an interview panel of sector experts.

Dave Kelly, Morgan Sindall's framework manager said, "The skills shortage facing UK construction companies is well publicised and as a business we take our responsibility seriously when it comes to highlighting the opportunities available. We do everything we can to provide real, meaningful opportunities for young men and women who want a career in construction.

"As signatories to the Birmingham Business Charter, we were only too happy to engage with Construction Youth Trust and their fantastic programme."

Window displayFashion students work with local shopping centre ‘The Square’ to visual merchandise global brand, Next.

The opportunity occurred as part of our Fashion Level 3 Year 2 Extended Diploma students styling unit where the department teamed up with local businesses to create an attractive window display for companies ‘Next’, ‘Hypnotic’ and ‘Directions’.

The students, as part of their live brief were tasked with going round each store to collect key pieces to put together current and on trend outfits to advertise their up and coming spring summer collections.

Within their two teams, the students used their skills to incorporate props and accessories, creating eye-catching pieces for each window display which left both shop clients and managers very impressed. The Next store manager, Nathan who was delighted with the enthusiasm the students brought to the project said: “It usually takes me all day to put together a window display, so for this to be done within such a short amount of time, I’m very impressed.”

This is an ongoing project with the Square Birmingham and will open up many more opportunities for our fashion students. If you’re interested in a fashion course, click here.

letterA selection of our ESOL students were delighted to discover that the Queen herself has responded to the letters they sent over Christmas.

The idea to contact the Queen came into effect following a lesson on her role and the system of the monarchy in the UK and to give learners the chance to practice their English, ESOL lecturer, James Fu suggested that they write letters to Her Majesty to ask about her daily routine, work life and much more.

A few weeks later, when the learners received the unexpected response, they were over the moon. James said: “The learners are thrilled to have received a reply from the Queen, so much so, they have shared their correspondences with friends and families from across the world through social media. The letters from Buckingham Palace are a source of great pride and will be cherished throughout their lives.”

ESOL’s Assistant Faculty Head, Harinder Chane added: “the students are so pleased and I think it’s a real cause for celebration. Well done to James for getting the students involved.”

To find out more on our ESOL courses, please click here.

Monday, 09 January 2017 14:37

Leading the way in Modest Fashion

Jessica Robinson EditJessica Robinson from Hockley, Birmingham has turned a school memory into a successful business.

An ex South and City College student, Jessica progressed to the University of Wolverhampton to complete a joint honours degree in Media and Creative Writing. She supported herself with various sales roles during her time at university and carried on working in this field upon graduating.

Around four years ago Jessica started thinking about setting up her own business. ‘I remembered a time at school when Muslim girls wanted to take part in swimming lessons but didn’t feel comfortable wearing swim suits because they were too revealing. They would wear leggings and t-shirts with the swim suit, even though the clothing wasn’t suitable for swimming. I designed a body suit suitable for swimming and my business grew from there.’ Jessica explained.

Shorso, the brand that Jessica singlehandedly created, is now stocked by House of Fraser, independent shops in Birmingham and London as well as supplied directly to schools. The swimwear has also been featured on the popular ITV show, This Morning.

At the age of 26, Jessica’s business now stocks over 80 different lines and she has big plans for the future: ‘I want to continue to grow the product range as well as the network of stockists. My dream is for my brand to be recognised across the country as a leader in modest fashion.’

As a successful businesswoman Jessica is keen to give back to the community. She has made contact with her old college and university to share her experience with other students. ‘There are two messages that I want to give to Fashion students today. First of all, don’t be scared – it is affordable to set up your own business from scratch. I started with £3,000, it gave me all the essentials for my start-up such as my website and product prototypes. My other message is that the business world is probably tougher than you think – there are barriers in your way everywhere and the competition is strong. However, with the right attitude and determination, you can succeed.’

To find out more about Fashion courses at South and City College Birmingham, you can attend our forthcoming open day on Saturday 28th January from 10am to 1pm. To find out more, visit

Sir Doug Ellis OBE has been an incredible support for students at South & City College Birmingham over the past few years and with the launch of his 'Entrepreneurship Academy' at the Digbeth Campus on 30th November his legacy of incredible achievements in business and sport will continue to have an impact on our young people over many years to come - the 'Academy' will serve as a lasting testimony and inspiration through all of our students’ future career pathways.

Sir Doug became 'Honorary President' of the College's InBusiness Network 5 years ago and since then he has been extremely generous in his support for student led activities - particularly those that have inspired our young people to show an entrepreneurial spirit.

Sir Doug un-veiled a commemorative brass plaque in the Digbeth Campus 'Microsoft Lounge' in front of an audience of business and media students - along with senior managers and Principal Mike Hopkins.

Sir Doug has helped South and City College create incredible links with businesses from across our region and through the launch of the 'Sir Doug Ellis OBE Entrepreneurship Academy' the college is now developing platforms for students that will include many activities including 'Entrepreneur 'surgeries' – where industry leaders will visit college campuses to offer advice and inspiration to students.

The college welcomes these exciting activities and the support of Sir Doug Ellis OBE. Steve Dourass, Business and Community Manager at South & City College said “'Sir Doug has been an incredible role model in business all of his life and to have his name attached to our 'Entrepreneurship Academy' adds real credibility to our aspirations for South and City College students’ futures.

To find out more about the 'Sir Doug Ellis OBE Entrepreneurship Academy' and how you can get involved please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester visited South and City College Bordesley Green campus on Wednesday 23rd November 2016, showing his support for ‘All 4 Youth & Community’ charity based in Birmingham.

The Duke accompanied by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham, included a tour of the sporting facilities at the campus and meeting with Mohammed Zafran founder of ‘All 4 Youth & Community’. In addition, The Duke also had the opportunity to speak to some Sport and Public Service students at South and City College Birmingham who have come into education as a direct result of the academy.

A winner of multitude of awards including British Empire Medal (BEM), Queen’s Honours List and Pride of Birmingham award 2014, Mohammed Zafran started the project six years ago when his brother in law was killed in a knife crime. Mohammed, who works at South and City College as a Community Officer and runs the project in his spare time, said: “We are thrilled to receive The Duke of Gloucester and have enjoyed showing The Duke the great work the charity has done in the local area in providing opportunities for youth to get back into education via sporting initiatives. South and City College have fully supported the charity from the start. We welcome The Duke’s support on further growing the charity and providing even more opportunities for young people from across the country.”

Mike Hopkins, Principal at South and City College, commented: “We are delighted to have welcomed His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester to South and City College Birmingham and was a fantastic experience for students some of whom had never met a member of the Royal Family. Our aim is to support as many young people into education and opening up as many opportunities as possible. We look forward to continuing working with the charity on new projects helping even more people back into education.”

All 4 Youth & Community provides youth with the opportunity to get back into education via sporting initiatives. To find out more about our range of courses starting September 2017, please visit

Wednesday, 23 November 2016 11:50

Higher Education Fairs

October saw the careers team hold their annual Higher Education fairs at Bournville, Hall Green, Bordesley Green and Digbeth campuses in which over 1000 students attended independently to explore opportunities.


The South and City College and Bournville Higher Education stands were promoted by our Admissions, Higher Education tutors and Careers teams.  There seemed to be a high demand of students enquiring into the HND route into gaining a full degree.  This was an ideal opportunity for us to promote our Higher Education courses and explain that they are offered at a much lower tuition fee charge of £5500 per annum compared to other HE providers who can charge up to a staggering £9250.00 per annum.


Some of the other Higher Education Providers at the event included, Birmingham City University, Birmingham University, Aston, Coventry and Aberystwyth.  In total 20 Higher Education providers attended and gave advice and guidance around course choices, entry requirements, facilities and various other opportunities within Higher Education.


The event received positive feedback from both students and exhibitors and those who were unsure about higher education were able to make suitable choices, enabling students to make informed decisions about their careers paths, many of which didn’t know they could study towards a degree at the college.


Staff at the event commented on the maturity and good behaviour of our students and how they came well prepared with their questions regarding university life and their future goals.


Many students spoke about how they didn’t know they could study towards a degree here at the college while expressing “it’s much cheaper”, while others stated: “I didn’t know university was for me but now I look at differently.” 


For more information on our higher education, please click here.

Monday, 14 November 2016 13:18

New Plant Training School in Bordesley Green

On 12 November a new Plant Training School was opened at Bordesley Green by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham.


The new plant school will deliver nationally accredited qualifications for both new operatives and for operators who need their cards renewed. The college will be able to train operators in wide range of plant from large excavators to mini plant and dumper trucks. 


Principal, Mike Hopkins said: "This will be a fantastic facility for Birmingham and will provide the specialist training and skills that are so needed for the construction industry locally. It will also open up a lot of scope for local people to train for jobs.


The college is already working with the Birmingham City Council/CITB Joint Investment Construction Project delivering construction training including plant to unemployed individuals, supporting them into the construction industry. 


Sue White, Senior Employment and Skills Officer from Birmingham City Council Employment and Skills Team said "We are delighted that our partnership with South and City College has been instrumental in delivering work related qualifications to Birmingham's unemployed residents and that we are the first project to use these excellent facilities with 28 candidates undertaking plant training between now and Christmas. 


For more information on the plant training courses, please call 0121 702 1093 or come along to our Open Evening on 24 November 4-7pm.

Leading international manufacturer and distributor of body armour, SafeGuard Clothing have provided South and City College Birmingham with a sample bulletproof vest.

The vest was donated to Public Services students at the college to enable practical experience with military level bulletproof clothing in order to help them prepare for their professional careers.

The generous donation will allow students to get first-hand, practical experience with police, military and security level equipment, as well as extra skills to take with them into their careers upon graduating.

South and City College’s course tutor, Richard Marconi said: “donations such as this one are incredible. Thanks to SafeGuard Clothing, our students can gain practical experience and get to know bulletproof equipment before embarking on their professional careers.”

SafeGuard have operated internationally for over 10 years, providing over 5000 bespoke bulletproof vests to hundreds of police, security and military companies across the globe every year. Thomas Bowman from SafeGuard said: “We want students across the UK to value the importance of bulletproof and protective clothing. These vests save lives and are an essential part of any public services profession.”


SafeGuard Clothing stock a wide variety of bullet and stab proof vests for both covert and overt usage. With distribution points across the world, they are a rapidly expanding protective vest provider, for more information on the company, please click here. 

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