The significant and growing contribution which Cheshire’s colleges make to the lives of the region’s communities, its industries and to the national economy have been highlighted during Colleges Week (15 – 19 October), a countrywide celebration of Further Education.
Figures released by Reaseheath College, Cheshire College South and West, Warrington & Vale Royal College and Macclesfield College show that collectively in 2017 the four colleges prepared over 7000 Further Education students for immediate progression into the workforce or for higher level education and training. They are also currently training over 3000 apprentices for local, regional and national companies.
The colleges point out that their students gain relevant, technical qualifications and industry related skills which are in high demand from employers and help to drive up the wider economy. Qualified students typically enjoy excellent employment prospects and many who go on to gain degrees earn higher than average salaries. Businesses benefit commercially by employing next generation, industry-ready staff and by engaging in bespoke training for their workforce.
In addition, the four colleges employ over 2,000 staff and sustain many other jobs in the wider community in areas such as transport, shopping and leisure pursuits. Students also contribute significantly to local communities and charities through fund raising and voluntary projects. Nationally, Further Education colleges transform the lives of 2.2 million people each year and are estimated to contribute to £7 billion to the national economy.
·Reaseheath College and University Centre is a national, specialist land-based and technical college based in Nantwich. It has undergone ten years of investment and expansion and offers state-of-the-art facilities including a centre for advanced engineering and agri-tech, industry standard food processing halls and a commercial farm and zoo.
· Cheshire College South and West has three new campuses in Crewe, Chester and Ellesmere Port and offers ‘A’ levels, vocational technical courses, apprenticeships and degree programmes in a range of subjects.
· Warrington & Vale Royal College, with campuses in Warrington, Winsford and Hartford, delivers a wide range of courses, including apprenticeships and higher education, with a focus on preparing students for the world of work.
· Macclesfield College offers a range of BTEC and NVQ qualifications and is noted as an aerospace engineering college.
A spokesperson for all for four colleges said: “We are delighted that Colleges Week has given us the opportunity to shine the spotlight on the way Cheshire’s colleges and their staff transform lives by helping students to make the most of their talents and ambitions and by helping businesses to improve productivity and economic growth. We are moving into a culture of life-long learning which in itself will support and stimulate continued growth and prosperity.”
Colleges Week is part of the ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign, a link-up between college staff, students and supporters and the education unions to promote colleges on the national stage.
David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges, said: “Every single day colleges like those in Cheshire provide a world class education and transform the lives of millions of people.
“Colleges Week has been an opportunity to celebrate the brilliant things that go on and a chance to showcase the brilliant staff that make it possible. It is simple. If we want a world-class education system then we need to invest in it properly.”