South Gloucestershire and Stroud College really is at the heart of business in the South West.
Ian Mean, Business West Gloucestershire Director looks at why SGS is standing out…
Over the last twenty years as an editor, I have worked with all the key further education providers and SGS certainly have a winning formula in a tough and increasingly challenging sector. That winning formula, in my view, is the ability of their teams to work closely with business and understand their recruitment needs.
And as a result, SGS are now proactively engaged with over 1000 businesses through their three main campuses – Stroud, Filton and WISE (South Gloucestershire).
SGS is now dealing with over 8000 learners (4000 full-time 16–19-year-olds, 2000 apprentices and nearly 5000 adult learners). Rated Good by Ofsted, SGS was formed in 2012 by the merger of Filton and Stroud Colleges.
Since then, SGS, in my view, has done a great job in developing apprentices and have now built up one of the largest apprenticeship provisions in the South West.
What I like about the team is they have Championed young people’s development so they can now boast working with some of our best-known companies such as Coutts Bank, Dyson, Ratheon, Boeing and the NHS as well as many local authorities.
SGS is a big business of learning and I have always been impressed by the commercial acumen of the SGS chief executive Kevin Hamblin who has shown real foresight in their investments.
They have invested over £50 million to enhance the college estate and established a national and international reputation in the development of sport through their SGS Academy of Sport, based at the WISE Campus.
Big investment too in 2015 to develop the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park on the site of the former delicenced nuclear laboratories at Berkeley.
Supported by GFirst LEP, the College secured over £30 million of capital investment onto the site to develop a centre for Engineering and Cyber Security, including a University Technical College opened in 2017.
Berkeley is now at the centre of the Western Gateway bid for the siting of a £2220 million prototype fusion plant on part of the Berkeley site with a decision expected later in the year.
I believe that if the bid is successful it will be a game changer for Gloucestershire’s economy with the possibility of up to 31 000 jobs as the project grows.
I am unashamedly a flag-waver for the STEM courses at Berkeley where we have young people travelling long distances every day to be at an education centre that really does cater for the jobs of the future with their tailored courses.
Further education colleges have big challenges in teaching resources and financial support from government. But you cannot argue that SGS is proving to be a match for those challenges.
Government Minister for Skills, Alex Burghat, was extremely impressed with the great work being carried out at SGS College, Stroud Campus, when he visited with Stroud MP, Siobhan Baillie.
Alex Burghat said: “I was delighted to visit SGS College and see first-hand the brilliant work being done there by apprentices and young people in everything from Games Design to Animal Care”.
“The dedication of the staff helping students get the skills and experience they need, now, and throughout the pandemic, was really impressive and it was fantastic to speak directly with the staff and their students”.
College Principal, Sara-Jane Watkins, added that the Minister’s visit gave her Leadership Team the opportunity to discuss the ongoing challenges facing further education post-pandemic and the government support needed to ensure that the objectives set out in the Skills for Jobs for Lifelong Learning White Paper can be achieved.
Sara-Jane Watkins commented: ”The visit has been a great opportunity to showcase some of our achievements over the last decade and present the Minister with the opportunity to meet both staff and learners to understand the impact of the pandemic on their learning and delivery as well as our hopes and needs for further education in the future”.
“For many young people, College is their stable place and safe haven. It’s so important for those in government to recognise the significant impact further education makes on the lives of millions every year, and how we are supporting the economy to deliver the skilled workforce of the future”.
MP, Siobhan Baillie, said: ”I did not go to university so I am a passionate advocate for everybody having a range of choices available in Stroud”.
“I know that choosing good quality further education like the courses offered at SGS will help people into the world of work”.
For more information on SGS College visit www.sgscol.ac.uk