City of Glasgow College partnered with engineering companies to help create career opportunities for 70 of Scotland’s young people during the global pandemic.

In reinforcing its strategic priority which ensures the delivery of an industry focused curriculum, addressing skills and knowledge which employers need, the college generated employment opportunities at a time when these were scarce.

Joe Mulholland, Associate Dean for Electrical, Auto and Digital Technology at the college, explained that engineering apprenticeships was an area the college was keen to build on.

“At the start of 2020 we engaged with a number of prominent employers including BAE, Thales and WGM. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and subsequent lockdown, the rapport we established was sustained throughout as the college focused on its flexible online learning and teaching approach to meet both employer and student expectations.”   

In early in August the college prioritised practical delivery for all engineering apprenticeships ahead of any further lockdowns.

“This was a good call by the college,” explained Joe. “We managed to achieve the bulk of practical work before the second lockdown. Even with the severe restrictions we all operated under, employers have fed back positively about their experience.”

Phil Brown, BAE Apprentice Training Manager, said:  

“City of Glasgow College responded very professionally to the pandemic. They quickly showed how adaptable they can be by delivering the apprentice programme remotely where appropriate. BAE Systems are extremely appreciative of the support and guidance given to our apprentices and we look forward to continuing our partnership for 2021-22.”

Emma Thursby, Thales Apprentice & Industrial Training Manager, added:

“We enjoyed a seamless transition to City of Glasgow College who took time and consideration to explain what they could do to better our current programme, and how they could support the technical requirements in the workshops. I was invited to Riverside campus for a tour and was blown away with the structure, the capacity and state of the art machinery and tooling. It was an easy decision to make to transfer our apprentices to City.”

The college has built a strong relationship with employers over the years, across its four faculties, to ensure a curriculum that is industry focused and demand led. In engaging specifically with engineering employers, college staff reshaped existing curriculum material, making it more relevant for apprenticeships, while developing their own content knowledge. Subsequently, employers have requested additional work for apprentices, as well as for other employees.

Flexibility, communication and a move towards less bureaucratic and rigid systems have been key to overcoming the challenges of Covid-19. This allowed a range of learning and teaching methods and systems to flourish and help our new apprentices to complete their first year on time.

Joe Mulholland said: “Our new apprentices completed their first year on time, and this success is underlined by the engineering firms confirming similar apprentice numbers for academic year 2021-22.

“As a STEM Centre of Excellence, our college has well-deserved reputation for delivering engineering with a nautical bias for students both in Scotland and internationally. What we have achieved here is to establish a model that allows us to engage with a range of engineering employers, from SME’s to global organisations.”

The new academic term, which begins on 30 August, will see over 70 engineering apprentices attend City of Glasgow College from a number of companies including BAE Systems, WGM, Thales, the Forestry Commission, and Chivas.