Derby College launches Employment and Skills Academies

Posted on November 27th, 2014

Derby College has launched a new initiative to bring together employers and students from all its vocational areas and better address businesses’ needs in its curriculum programme.

Sixteen different Employment and Skills Academies at the College range from Engineering and Construction through to Hospitality, Care and IT as well as an Academy designed to support young entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses with mentoring and potentially funding support from local entrepreneurs.

Under the Employment and Skills Academies programme, employers join an Advisory Board to shape the curriculum for students in each vocational area.

Employers are invited to be specialist speakers, host visits to their workplace, set projects for students to tackle a particular task, mentor groups of learners, or provide internship and work experience opportunities, among other activities which will improve the skills, attitudes and knowledge of students.

Derby College has already piloted the concept as part of the national UK Career Academies programme in the areas of Professional Construction and Engineering.

Derby College Business Director April Hayhurst said: “Building on the success of these pilot programmes, we are working with an even wider range of employers to determine the skills and attitudes that they need from young people.

“Employers consistently tell us that they want young people who are work ready and have the employability skills that will help them to grow their business.

“The Employment and Skills Academies are designed to do just that by bringing together employers and their staff together with students to bridge the skills gap and provides young people with a spring board into employment.

“The response from employers has so far been fantastic but we are looking for more people to get involved in whatever way they can.”

Derby College Group Career Placement Manager Rob Goodyer explained that the Employment and Skills Academies are good for business.

“Employers who have already been involved in the pilot programme at College have taken the opportunity to influence education decisions and strategy – ensuring that the work we do is providing the skills they need to increase their competitive edge.

“It is also provides networking opportunities with other like-minded business leaders and develops individuals’ teamwork and leadership skills through working with young people.

“Students involved in the Academies are those who show a keen interest in going the extra mile and this therefore offers employers an alternative method of recruitment which reduces costs and enhances their talent pool.”

Stephen Hunt from GF Tomlinson and Rebecca Hartshorn from Bowmer & Kirkland have both been heavily involved in the first UK Professional Construction Career Academy at Derby College.

Stephen said: “I studied Construction at Wilmorton which is now part of Derby College and, as part of the course, completed ten weeks of work experience with a local company which gave real meaning to the academic course.

“When I became responsible for the advanced apprentices at GF Tomlinson I was keen to continue and extend the relationship with Derby and was involved in the launch of the Professional Construction Career Academy.

“The students participating in the Academy have had real life experiences from site visits and internships along with talks from employers, visits to places of work and having partners in business or mentors.

“We believe these experiences have enthused the individuals to go on and maximise their potential. They are also work ready which is vital to employers and we have employed two students in the past four years who are continuing their studies through degree courses on a part time basis.”

Rebecca, Design and Sustainability Manager at Bowmer & Kirkland, continued: “It is vital that employers are involved in shaping young people’s career aspirations and ensuring that the skills they learn at College are those that we need in industry.

“It is inspirational to see how the students develop through the Academy programme and, as employers, we get a great deal back.

“It is also a good opportunity to develop members of staff within the organisation who mentor students and support them with internship and work experience opportunities.

“As Midlands Deputy Chair of the National Association for Women in Construction, I have particularly valued the opportunity to work with young female students to show them the career opportunities available to them and to be a role model during their formative years.”

Paul Knifton from Pick Everard architects in Derby added: “Offering internships and work experience opportunities has not only helped the young people from the Professional Construction course at Derby College has benefited our business.

“Working on the CAD and IT systems is second nature to them and it is interesting to see how they tackle projects with their latest knowledge. We have also been able to recruit some very talented young people who are already a great asset to our business.”

For more information about the Derby College Employment and Skills Academies and how employers can get involved, please contact Rob Goodyer, Group Career Placement Manager, on 01332 387424 or or visit