Mark Jones, Principal of Gower College Swansea, explains how the College is planning to help students create a clear progression pathway for their future.
One of the conflicts that all educational institutions face is that, whilst many parents and prospective students can often judge their performance on what can be a narrow view of pass rates and grades, their actual role goes far beyond this.
The key role of further education colleges is to ensure that we add value so that our students leave us with qualifications and/or skills that they didn’t have when they arrived.
As a result, they are able to progress onto the next step, which may include a higher level course at a top university, an apprenticeship or a job with a local employer.
I recently heard education compared to a motorway where there is a clear direction of travel but with numerous entry and exit points, and I think that is a very fair analogy.
All further education colleges are able to do this very well due to the wide range of programmes that they offer which supports, and in many cases provides, this progression.
So for example, at Gower College Swansea, the additional support that we provide to help with university applications means that our success rate – in terms of offers that our students receive – is consistently 10% above the national average.
Similarly, the 2,500 apprenticeship pathways that we provide each year gives many of our students additional opportunities as well as a real incentive to work hard to impress prospective employers.
However, this September we are going to do even more at Gower College Swansea and guarantee our students one of five progression pathways.
These could include an offer to a UK university, another suitable course within the College, a job, an apprenticeship specifically linked to the needs of the Swansea and south west Wales region, or tailored, personalised employability support to help them to get a job.
We are able to do this because of both the increase in apprenticeship opportunities - from 350 in 2016 to over 2,500 today - and the introduction of a suite of employability support offered by the College’s Better Jobs, Better Futures programme.
Better Jobs, Better Futures is conveniently located in the city centre and has to date supported over 1,000 clients to get into employment.
In September, experienced and dedicated Career Coaches will spend part of their week working with our full time students in brand new Future Hubs based at our Tycoch and Gorseinon campuses, which will provide help and support via tutorials and drop in sessions.
This guarantee is of course dependent on students meeting our core criteria of high attendance, good behaviour and course completion. Although whatever the outcome, we are still keen to work with each student to help shape their next step.
Therefore, if you’re keen to find out more about the opportunities available to you, please contact us for more information.