South West College wins national education award

South West College wins national education award
July, 2015
South West College has won Most Innovative BTEC Apprenticeship Provider of the Year 2015 at the National BTEC Awards.
The competition, which celebrates achievement in the country’s most widely taken vocational qualification, was held in London on 7th July 2015.
The awards recognise the nearly one million students and centres around the country that are studying or providing BTEC qualifications this year. Pearson, who own BTECs, received over 800 nominations across the 20 award categories for this year’s Awards.
Now in their fifth year, the Awards were hosted by comedian Rob Beckett, at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London. 
Ahead of the Awards Ceremony, the winners, their family, friends and nominators attended a Parliamentary reception in the House of Commons.
Winner summary: South West College is the 2015 Most Innovative BTEC Apprenticeship Provider of the Year
Rated outstanding by Northern Ireland’s Education and Training Inspectorate, South West College’s engineering apprenticeships are progressive, tailored to local industry needs and provide the perfect environment for learners to progress into work.
Since 2011, 96 students have enrolled on the college’s Gold Technician Apprenticeship, with several winning prestigious Apprentice of the Year Awards. In 2014 and 2015 the college was awarded the DEL Northern Ireland Innovation and Partnership Award for its work with the country’s engineering sector.
The college’s success centres on developing new and innovative engineering qualifications in areas where employers have skills shortages.
Once a year it invites local engineering companies to its three campuses to discuss their current and future business needs. Using this information and the generic BTEC engineering units as a base, the college has developed four new qualifications that include specialist units that align with employers’ skills needs.
This means the college is now delivering tailored, sector-specific apprenticeships for a diverse range of Northern Ireland’s engineering companies.
South West College’s apprentices work in industry-standard suites containing the latest technologies. They use VLE platforms, cloud computing and laptops to enhance their learning experiences and the college recently secured funding for a higher level apprenticeship as a progression route for its learners.
The judges praised South West College’s innovative approach to its BTEC Apprenticeships and its dedication to providing learners with experience and skills that will be of value to a large number of employers.
Speaking on behalf of South West College, Maria Hackett, Head of Training said:
"I am delighted to have received this award on behalf of South West College. It is testament to the innovation and dedication of all staff and the commitment to providing the best possible training experience for our learners.
“Our facilities and the training models we have developed in conjunction with employers have resulted in us being able to deliver industry standard, sector specific teaching and training that enhances the career prospects of the apprentices we support."
Mark Anderson, Managing Director, Pearson UK said:
“The National BTEC Awards is an opportunity for us to shout from the rooftops not just about the winners, but also about the achievements of BTEC students, apprentices, teachers, schools, colleges and training providers up and down the country.
“Every year, thousands of BTEC students go on to university and good jobs that really value their skills. Whether as a stand-alone qualification or combined with A-levels, BTEC represents the fastest growing route into education and these awards demonstrate why that’s the case. They achieve great things in a wide variety of industries vital to the economy, ranging from business and engineering to ICT and healthcare. Recent figures showed that pupils from lower socio-economic groups are twice as likely to go to university on the back of a BTEC, rather than traditional A-levels.
“At a time when the value of vocational learning at school and college is continuing to be robustly debated, we believe the example set by these Award winners is part of a growing body of evidence that clearly demonstrates their valuable contribution to both the education system and the broader economy.
“It is vital to support and celebrate the hard work and achievements of outstanding BTEC students and their teachers. This year’s judges were impressed by the quality and number of nominations we received but the South West College really stood out as a truly exceptional provider”.