PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION
DEVELOPING OUR PEOPLE
WALSALL COLLEGE – A PLAN FOR EMPLOYERS
The history books might suggest that everything came to a halt when the COVID-19 lockdown came into force. Of course, we all know different.
At Walsall College, they have never stopped working. Neither have the many employers they support.
Prosper spoke to James Norris, Assistant Principal at Walsall College for an insight into their work over recent months.
"From the moment lockdown was announced," James said, "The college has delivered teaching and training services by any alternative means available, including remote working, telephone calls and emails, as well as making use of Smart Rooms and webinars.
"It hasn't only been existing apprentices and work-based learners making use of our services," exclaimed James.
"Furloughed employees and those with extra time on their hands have been discovering that online, distance learning programmes are a useful way to enhance their skillset. In April, this led to a threefold increase in demand for our courses.
"Walsall Football Club is just one of the employers benefitting from the opportunity to pursue additional workforce development. Members of their community development team completed Level 2 (GCSE-equivalent) programmes in Team Leading, Health and Business Administration, among others.
"While there have been positive measures in place, we haven't ignored the difficulties faced by many businesses. We've been advising them too; exploring options around the reskilling of staff and finding alternative means of sustainable employment for those facing redundancy.
"Following the government's introduction of new apprenticeship and traineeship initiatives, we're now helping employers access the right funding to help them prepare for the future.
"Blended learning (a combination of on and off campus studies) will continue to be the way forward from September, when the new college year starts. It means apprentices and work-based learners can still be recruited, trained and assessed online while businesses ease out of the current restrictions and even in the event of a second full lockdown.
"So, for those employers reviewing their workforce situation, we encourage them to bear in mind that providers like ourselves can keep taking action on their behalf, regardless of any further challenges that may come our way."
James concluded, "It's vital that we capitalise on the skills and productivity ambitions that we have already achieved collectively and can still deliver in line with our local priorities."