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SkillBuildSouth and City College Birmingham will play host to the West Midland's best construction trainees on Tuesday, as they compete in the first round of the national construction competition SkillBuild 2014.

Almost 100 young construction trainees are expected at the college on Tuesday 10 June to battle it out in their chosen trade. Skills such as bricklaying, wall and floor tiling and painting and decorating will all be tested.

Trainees will be put through their paces during a gruelling day under the watchful eye of expert judges.

SkillBuild has taken place for around 40 years, travelling around the country looking for the best in regional talent with the first rounds being a warm up for the national final.

The competition is organised and supported by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the Sector Skills Council and Industry Training Board for the construction industry every year.

The Construction Training Specialist hosted regional heat is one of 14 taking place across the UK from which the top ten competitors will be put forward for the national final which takes places during The Skills Show at Birmingham's NEC in November 2014.

It is the biggest of the 14 competitions, and will be running alongside The Skills Show Experience - a nationwide programme of over 220 events throughout the year extending the impact of The Skills Show and inspiring over 200,000 young people across the country, unlocking their potential and shaping their future.

The day will also see competitors take part in a trade specific competition – Skill Plumb and Skill Electric 2014 Regional Heat in plumbing and electrics.

Catherine Bullough, CITB sector strategy manager for the West Midlands region said: "We're really excited to bring SkillBuild 2014 to Birmingham. There is some great construction talent in the region so we're looking forward to seeing what our young apprentices can do.

"SkillBuild is all about the way that people setting out on their construction career work. Most of the competitors are still learning so it's not just about the finished article, it's about the whole process that they go through."

Mike Hopkins, principal of South and City College Birmingham said: "We are delighted to be hosting the regional competitions again here at our dedicated construction centre in Bordesley Green. Our students have been training hard, and I wish them and all of the competitors the best of luck.

"With the construction industry picking up again, now is a great time for young people to shine in their trade and be noticed by employers, and the competitors at SkillBuild will certainly all being doing that."

Birmingham Pride 2014The college has taken part in Birmingham Pride 2014 for the first time in its history. Staff and students from the college took part in the lively carnival parade and also had a stand at the community village green.

Despite pouring down with rain the spirits of the staff and students certainly weren't dampened. South and City College were the only college in attendance and joined over 60 other organisations to support this year's event. Hundreds of people came out to support and watch the parade which made its way from Victoria Square to Hurst Street.

The theme of this year's parade was freedom and equality around the world and was opened by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and Peter Tatchell. Peter is a famous political activist who has fought for equality and did a moving speech on the subject. It's important to realise there are still more than 40 common wealth countries who jail LGBT people just for being who they are.

The college would like to say a big thank you to the staff and students who gave up their time to support the college at Pride 2014.

Staff: Vicki McNamnee, Kim Hearne, Claire Beale, Jay Hearne, Elaine Jones, Jacqui Mayer, Sapreena Kumari-Malins, Harj Jutley, Hayley Ridewood and Sarah Clarke.

Students: Edward Herbert, Tomas Kirby and Belinda Melendez

Being a part of Birmingham Pride 2014 was a huge success and will certainly be on the annual calendar of events for the future. If you would like to be involved next year please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Coast2CoastSouth and City College Birmingham can today announce the official sponsors of each stage for the Coast2Coast cycle challenge which will raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust in association with The Stephen Staunton Foundation [Wednesday 28 May].

Local businesses from around the West Midlands have pledged to help the charity bike ride get well on its way to reaching the £50,000 target which has been set by Principal Mike Hopkins.

Mike will also be leading the challenge, which will see a group of cyclists pedal around 800 miles over nine days, travelling from coast to coast across the UK and Ireland this summer (July 19 to July 27).

The cycle route and sponsors are as follows:
Day one sponsored by Wassifa Showcase will start from the college's Digbeth Campus to Cleethorpes after first visiting the Teenage Cancer Trust Ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Day two will start from Cleethorpes to Congleton and is sponsored by East End Foods.
Day three is sponsored by Subway franchisee Aksar Khan which will start from Congleton and head over to Betws-y-Coed in Wales before resting up for the night.

Communications and design firm, DesignBP will be the sponsors for the ride from Betws-y-Coed to Dublin after a taking the team take a ferry over the North Sea from Holyhead.

Day five is sponsored by Phoenix Green & Alvesta Energy and will see the riders travel all the way down the east coast of Ireland from Dublin/Bray to Rosslare then travelling on another ferry back across to Fishguard in Wales.

Day six will see the team bike from Fishguard to Barry Island and is sponsored by AB Waste.

Birmingham based publisher, Packt are sponsoring day seven which will see the riders start from Barry Island back into England, heading for the coast at Weymouth.

Day eight is sponsored by Aston Manor Brewery and will start from Weymouth travelling to Burford in Oxfordshire.

Day nine is the final leg of the ride and is being sponsored graphics and signage company, Hollywood Monster.

Travelling up from Burford, the team will make a pit stop at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry where they will be joined by students, staff and the general public to take part in a final celebration ride back into Birmingham to the college's Digbeth Campus for a celebration event.

Principal Mike Hopkins said: "I'm really proud of the local businesses who have come onboard with such great support for the challenge. It really goes to show what a close community we are in Birmingham.

"By working with well known organisations in the region we hope it will have a greater impact in raising awareness of what we're trying to achieve for the two charities as well as the good work they do for young people.

Media students from the college will be involved in supporting the project by filming and editing videos to capture the ride in detail.

For more information on the Coast2Coast challenge please visit:


Amy and Jack start their new jobs with the councilSeven young people from Birmingham, including a jobseeker of four years, have been offered full-time Apprenticeship jobs through one of the region's first Traineeship programmes; a scheme challenging the skills and employment gap young people are facing in the West Midlands.

South and City College Birmingham have championed the scheme by delivering one of the first Traineeships in the region that has followed through with full-time work upon completion through a partnership with Birmingham City Council.

The college hopes the success of its first group of young people on the scheme will raise the profile of Traineeships to those who are also struggling to find work in the West Midlands, which has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the UK.

12 young people worked as business administrators within Birmingham City Council's children's services department on the Traineeship scheme for a ten-week period developing their work-based skills and gaining valuable experience in a professional environment.

The Traineeship concluded at the end of March with all 12 trainees being interviewed for seven full time Apprenticeship roles. The seven successful candidates started their new business administration roles at Birmingham City Council on Monday 19 May.

The government launched Traineeships in August 2013 to help young people who would like to undertake an Apprenticeship or job but who did not yet have the skills or experience to be successful in getting employed.

A Traineeship involves work experience placements including essential workplace skills and on-the-job training. Trainees also attend college to learn more about their line of work, employability skills such as CV writing and interview techniques and to improve their English and maths qualifications.

The seven successful trainees were Mandip Chumber aged 23, Amy Braithwaite and Michael Abraham aged 22, Sean Guiden aged 21, Jack Nixon and Lucy Garland aged 18 and Qasim Mahmood aged 17.

Amy Braithwaite, aged 22 from Castle Bromwich, had been unemployed for four years before signing up to the scheme. She said: "I was applying for jobs regularly but wasn't getting anywhere. I wouldn't even be able to tell you how many jobs I've applied for over the years – I've lost count.

"I would recommend to any young person who is struggling to find work to look into taking up a Traineeship as it's helped me to turn things around."

Mike Hopkins, principal of South and City College Birmingham said: "It's great to see the college leading the way on Traineeships and trying to tackle youth unemployment head on in Birmingham.

"Through our partnership with the council we have been able to give seven young people who were struggling to find work the opportunity to develop their skills and improve their employability. The scheme has helped them to bridge the gap between education and employment and I wish them all the very best in their new roles."

Steve Wise, service director of business change for Birmingham City Council added: "What a fantastic and innovative scheme this is to get unemployed young people into work. It is incredibly rewarding to see so many of them succeed in getting Apprenticeships with the council.

"I would recommend Traineeships to any employer looking to appoint talented, young people who for whatever reason have missed out on opportunities to get into work."

Due to the success of the initial scheme the college and council have opened talks about creating more Traineeship opportunities for young people across other departments in the organisation.

Photo from left to right: Yvette Brechon-Smith (Professional Support Services Team Leader), Amy Braithwaite (Successful Trainee), Jack Nixon (Successful Trainee) and Maggie Brason (Professional Support Relationship Manager)

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 09:02

College wins at the RoSPA Awards 2014

RoSPA AwardsSouth and City College Birmingham has been awarded a Highly Commended in the Education & Training Services Sector award in the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Occupational Health and Safety Awards 2014.

The college has received a sector award for the second year running, this year achieving 'highly commendable' for its excellent approach to workplace health and safety and continuous improvement in accident and ill health prevention for the benefit of its staff, students, visitors and partners.

The prestigious annual award was presented to the college by RoSPA during a ceremony at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel, at the National Exhibition Centre, on May 14, 2014.

The college was awarded the accolade for its continuous development and improvement of health and safety management within the college. The college has demonstrated the ability to identify strengths and weaknesses and collective collaboration to achieve a safer workplace for all and to ensure best practice is not only implemented but maintained and monitored.

As the UK's family safety charity, RoSPA's mission to save lives and reduce injuries covers all ages and stages of life. In support of this mission, the RoSPA Awards, which date back 58 years, recognise commitment to continuous improvement in accident and ill health prevention at work. Through the scheme, which is open to businesses and organisations of all types and sizes from across the UK and overseas, judges consider entrants' overarching occupational health and safety management systems, including practices such as leadership and workforce involvement.

Dawn Ward, the college's health and safety manager said: "The award means everything; it is the ultimate benchmark to reflect our hard work and commitment. It enables me as a practitioner to continually improve against the high standards and to develop and maintain a leadership culture ethos."

David Rawlins, RoSPA's awards manager said: "The RoSPA Awards encourage the raising of occupational health and safety standards across the board. Organisations that gain recognition for their health and safety management systems, such as South and City College Birmingham, contribute to a collective raising of the bar for other organisations to aspire to, and we offer them our congratulations."

The sponsors of the RoSPA Awards 2014 are: headline sponsor - NEBOSH; The RoSPA International Sector Award - airsweb; The MORR Trophy - Allianz; The International Dilmun Environmental Award - GPIC; The Best New Entry Trophy - Safety and Health Expo; The Workforce Involvement in Safety and Health Trophy - Springfields Fuels; and, The MORR Technology Trophy - Tesco Dotcom.

See for more information about the RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Awards.

South and City College Birmingham hosted the first two heats for the West Midlands region WorldSkills UK 2014 Health and Social Care Competitions on 13 and 14 May 2014.This years' competitions are sponsored by Profiles4 Care and the NHS Leadership Academy.

The heats have enabled 32 of the 104 competitors who registered to compete from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, to demonstrate their excellent skills in delivering health care whilst in a competitive environment.

Heat 1 on 13 May saw some fantastic skills being delivered by competitors, with person centred care being demonstrated throughout. The following were the worthy winners:

1st place: Reanna Harper (18) from South Devon College, currently studying Health and Social Care level 3 advanced diploma, whilst working at Margaret Clitherow House for residential care. She was chosen by her tutors to enter this year's WorldSkills UK.

2nd place: Megan Bailey-Earl (16) also studying at level 3 in South Devon College, works in residential care at The Grange Lea residential care home in Paignton.

3rd place: Ashley Irvine (18) from CWT Chamber Training was also chosen by his tutors to enter this year's WorldSkills UK.

Heat 2 on 14 May saw further examples of excellence with the following competitors' achieving:

1st place: Krysia Knox (19), currently studying at Stoke on Trent College, was chosen by her tutors to enter this year's WorldSkills UK.

2nd place: James Groocock (19) from South Leicestershire College, studying Year 1 BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Health & Social care.

3rd place: Tamara Roberts (20) from Coleg Llandrillo Cymru was also chosen by her tutors to enter this year's WorldSkills UK.

Health and social care students and staff from South and City College Birmingham also played a central role in the competition.

Mike Hopkins, Principal of South and City College said: "We are delighted that the West Midlands heat of this competition has been held at our college. We have been very impressed by the competitors and I congratulate them all on how much effort they have put in and how professional they have been.

"At the college we believe that competitions help boost students' confidence, whilst also giving them an excellent experience.

"Good luck to the South and City College students, and the other students, who are still to compete."

Reanna Harper said: "It feels fantastic to win, it was such a surprise! The whole day was a really good experience. The highlight of the day for me was the scenarios and getting into the situation, I really enjoyed it."

James Groocock enthused: "I feel pretty amazing - it's a real confidence boost, something to write about. I really enjoyed meeting and working with the other competitors, there was a real synergy between us that really helped with the nerves".

Tamara Roberts also said: "I feel fantastic, like I've really achieved something, I didn't think I could do it. The highlight for me was the learning difficulties scenario, this is an area I enjoy and I feel like I can learn a lot from".

Debbie Sorkin, Chief Executive of the National Skills Academy for Social Care, said: "The expertise and leadership demonstrated by our frontline care workers has once again been a pleasure to observe. To see competitors confidently showing what they can do when supporting people is a privilege. Health and social care has a lot to look forward to from the people who have taken part in this competition."

Making the awards, Lead Judge Pat Pearson said: "WorldSkills just gets better and better as a competition and a real showcase for how well social care is carried out. It was a pleasure to observe such committed competitors taking part in this heat at South and City College Birmingham and to award prizes to some outstanding care workers and students."

Students on a sugar high with sweet salesRetail Fusion, a sweet shop set up by retail students at the college, has been a roaring success since first opening in early December.

In the five months Retail Fusion has been trading at the college, the sweet shop has raised nearly £2300 pounds of revenue, with £1200 coming in as gross profit.

The students have been providing confectionaries for audiences at events which have been going on around the college in a bid to boost sales. Highlights include the recent Capital and Vamps concert that took place in Digbeth auditorium and this week's hair and beauty show where the shop made a whopping £260 in one day.

The retail entry level three, level one and level two students initially set up the shop to apply their knowledge of retail they had learnt in lessons in a real life situation. The students have been involved in all aspects of buying, selling, marketing and advertising.

The running of the shop has seen students gaining hands on skills in merchandising and display, showcasing their selling and customer service, as well as being responsible for stock control, security, sales records and handling cash.

Retail Fusion are available to attend college events and have already been booked up for the upcoming open day, the fashion show, an employment and a charity event. The department are also speaking with Kings Heath's market manager for an off-site market day stall on the high street

Meskerm Risome, a retail level 2 student said: "I have been with the college almost two years and this project has been very exciting to take part in. I've been able to develop my communication and English skills whilst giving me the opportunity to practice and improve my customer service within a retail business. It's given me a lot of knowledge where I've been able to apply and gain practical experience. Retail Fusion has been a lot of fun learning, from the preparation and packing of stock to actually setting up and selling."

Retail tutor, Naz Nazarali said: "Retail Fusion has really a real success story for the learners and the college. The enterprise continues to grow and generate excellent sales and profit, which in turn will benefit the division and learners with various enrichment projects planned for the next academic year. The goal and vision is to now develop this into a full-time enterprise run by the students across the college."

If anyone would like to book Retail Fusion for their event or have any products they wish to sell then please contact Naz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. details.

College sponsors construction awardsSouth and City College Birmingham have taken part in celebrating excellence in the construction industry at the Built Environment Hub's Celebrating Construction Awards 2014.

The college sponsored the Leadership and People Development Award which was awarded to Bournville Village Trust – Building a Future – Bournville Propertycare Services.
More than 600 hundred leaders and innovators from across the construction sector gathered at the ICC, Birmingham, to celebrate West Midlands' most inspiring construction projects and people.

The college who are a leading provider of Apprenticeships in Birmingham and offer employers high quality, up to date training for their exiting staff in a wide range of construction, technical and management skills, sponsored the Leadership and People Development Award as they understand the importance of workforce development and ongoing skills and training.

Bournville Propertycare Services won the award as they have a long history of Apprenticeship training and have continued with George Cadbury's vision of training and innovation; believing that they have cultivated some brilliant talent. Not only are they keeping alive the historical methods of building and construction but they are also embracing the future and have recently constructed a whole estate of housing with modern, up to date technologies. In 2013 they were named the 'UK Apprentice Employer of the Year' by the CITB and an 'outstanding training provider' by OFSTED.

Mike Hopkins, principal of the college said: "It is important to us as a college to support and celebrate the construction industry, particularly where skills and training are concerned.

"We believe passionately about the positive impact Apprenticeships have on the construction industry as well as other industries to bring new talent in, and also the benefit to young people themselves.

"The business services team at the college help local and regional employers access the training and qualifications necessary for their workforce as well as providing and end-to-end Apprenticeship recruitment service.

"Congratulations to Bournville Propertycare Services who have embedded Apprenticeships, training and development in everything they do."

Steve Fellows, head of asset management from Bournville Village Trust added: "Working with South and City College Birmingham has enabled Bournville Village Trust to train not only technically excellent apprentices, but fully rounded social housing professionals. Advanced technical skills are supplemented with training in areas of safeguarding the vulnerable, the importance of understanding equality and diversity and dynamic communication skills."

Built environment chair, David Bucknall OBE said: "Celebrating construction is now firmly established as a high point in the regional construction calendar. Each year it commands the attention of the industry professionals and these free to enter awards are an excellent platform to showcase and promote the very best of our industry achievements. Importantly, the Midlands' winners automatically become finalists in the national awards."

Asda Staff Visit Retail StudentsStudents training to join the retail industry at the college had a great experience by hearing what managers from Asda had to say about the industry.

Andrew, a fresh trading manager and Sandra, a community liaison manager both based in Birmingham spoke to the students about working in the retail industry, what it is like to work for Asda and also how they got to where they are today.

Andrew started working part time at the age of 17, doing 15 hours a week. He later went on to work in Sainsbury's for 18 months but he soon found himself back working for Asda again.

Andrew told the students he and his team at the Asda in Shirley believe in the three "S"s: service, sales and standards. Andrew said: "I believe Asda's culture is happy and friendly and from a business view is structural."

The students also had the opportunity to watch three videos on what sales, service and standards mean to the staff at the new Shirley store, and then they were able to question Andrew and Sandra about their roles.

When Andrew was asked "What do you look for when hiring?" he replied: "I look for personality and how they would engage with the customers, which is really important. We train people in the skills needed on the job but they need to have the right attitude, with a good smile to greet customers to start off."

When Sandra was asked "Why would you want to work for Asda?" she answered: "Asda has fantastic flexibility with hours and location. Asda is a good and friendly family company to work for."

Murtaza Nazarali, retail tutor added: "It's great to have retail industry experts come in and share their knowledge with students. It gives them real insight to what employers are looking for from future employees."

Ozan Ghani working at the Coffin WorksConstruction students from the college have been working on a restoration project for one of Birmingham's most historic buildings in a bid to develop their skills and be ready to enter the industry.

Nine students have been on two week placements across the last six months with building firm Fairhurst Ward Abbotts Limited who are completing the restoration and rebuilding of the historic Newman Brothers Coffin Fitting Works situated in the Jewellery Quarter.

The brickwork students have been replacing and repointing damaged bricks to make sure the building remains structurally sound and carpentry students have been installing stud walls, insulating and replacing flat roofing to ensure the building remains warm and dry.

Whilst developing their standard construction skills on site the students have also been given the opportunity to learn new skills around restoration techniques. The specialist training has given students a chance to see how old and new construction skills are used to bring the Coffin Fitting Works back to life.

With the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reporting record construction growth in the first quarter of the year compared to the previous 20 years there are concerns about a skills shortage forming in the industry.

The college are tackling Birmingham's high youth unemployment rate and skills shortage head on by ensuring they effectively train students and get them the relevant experience through work placements so they can enter the construction industry upon completing their course.

Since undertaking the partnership three students have secured full time work or Apprenticeships in the construction industry thanks to placements at the Coffin Fitting Works.

The repair and conservation of the grade two listed building has been under construction since last summer with the project being overseen by the Birmingham Conservation Trust. The two million pound restoration is being funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage, amongst others, and is due to be opened to the public as a museum toward the end of September 2014.

The Newman Brothers Coffin Fitting Works first opened its door in 1894 until the business was finally shut down in 1999. The company have fitted coffins for famous figures including Joseph Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, the Queen Mother and Princess Diana.

Ozan Ghani, 18, from Handsworth is studying carpentry at the college and is currently on a two week placement.

He said: "Coming to work on this project has given me chance build on what I've learnt at college. I've also had the opportunity to learn new skills around restoration techniques and I'll now have a better chance of securing a full time job because of the experience I've gained."

Mike Hopkins, principal of South and City College Birmingham said: "It's a real achievement for our students to be working on the multi-million project at the Coffin Fitting Works. With the construction industry starting to pick up again it's great to see the college playing an active role in securing our students placements and preparing them to enter the workplace.

"Through our partnerships we are ensuring our young people in the West Midlands don't suffer from having a skills gap and can confidently become the workforce for the future."

Ian Bird, conservation regional director for Fairhurst Ward Abbotts Limited said: "It's great to see young people taking an interest and a willingness to learn more about the restoration and construction of this project which means so much for the region both historically and economically."

After the success of the placements the college, Fairhurst Ward Abbotts Limited and Birmingham Conservation Trust are due to continue their partnership on future projects.