In the October edition of Building Design & Construction magazine, South & City College Birmingham was featured with an in-depth article called “Reputable Education”. The full article can be found here, with a summary provided below.
South & City College Birmingham is one of the UK’s largest providers of construction-related courses, encompassing both traditional and specialist qualifications. Courses range from construction and maintenance to ground operations, plant training and installation services.
The college is a driving force for bringing young people through the pipeline to employment and is working on various projects to try and fill the industry’s skills gap. Most recently, the college is pushing to offer more specialist installation and technology-oriented training, including data centre and smart home installation skills, in response to the market’s growing demand for this skill set.
Assistant Principal, Paul Morris, explains: “Housebuilders now are looking to utilise technology more and more, so we’re starting to see some demand for training people on more niche, specialist areas over and above the basic electrical installation – in automotive, the transition is into the hybrid and electric vehicles and so we’re looking with our estate to repurpose parts of that and looking to expand our operations at Bordesley Green, where our main Construction and Engineering Centre of Excellence is based, to create a more diverse offer that meets the needs of local business.”
The college has strong ties with national and local construction companies, working in partnership to offer students work experience, job opportunities and specialist training course provision. A current example can be seen with the college’s partnership with Balfour Beatty Vinci JV, which plays a major role in the HS2 project for the West Midlands region. The partnership aims to connect the local community with the immense opportunities available while also providing rapid access to specialist local talent.
South & City College Birmingham also has great relationships with the likes of the Federation of Master Builders and National Federation of Builders, where the college has been trying to feed in support for small to medium construction firms specifically, to provide new apprenticeship standards for smaller builders who require a more multi-skilled workforce as opposed to specialists in a particular construction field.
Working with schools is another area where the college is trying to change the face of construction. Construction is rarely the first choice for aspiring young people and often not the direction of travel careers advisors would point to for bright talent.
Paul Morris went on to explain: “Through our team, we do a lot of work with local schools. There’s probably around 100 or so schools we work within and around the Birmingham and Solihull areas and we have staff that go in to provide impartial advice and guidance to youngsters looking to progress from school. One of the things we’ve also been trying to do is re-educate schools a bit because it’s has been a long-standing issue that schools are too keen to promote and push the gifted and talented students into more traditional A Level routes.”
South & City College Birmingham is also trying to tackle getting more women into an industry that is seen as predominately male-dominated. Latifa Facer, Head of Construction, said: “I’m looking forward to making some changes by growing the number of women in this industry.”
Not only is the college working on all of the projects above, South & City College Birmingham is also a role model for construction companies in one of the industry’s most important topics: health & safety. Winning a record tenth RoSPA Gold Award this year, the college has a proven track record for excellence in health and safety – this includes all aspects of the college, but naturally has particular relevance when considering the safety implications of construction-related training.
Dawn Francis-Jones, Assistant Director – Health & Safety, added: “We are all about students, but you’ve got to have a safe workforce to be able to support those students and for them to work effectively. It does come down to having robust and effective, meaningful policies and procedures. It’s about making sure we have effective safe working practices, so we don’t differentiate between staff, students, visitors, and contractors, because it’s one big college.”