Sandwell education chief calls for increased business education

College Principal stresses the importance of education and upskilling.

With recent news that one in eight secondary schools in England are underperforming, it’s never been more relevant to recognise the importance of education and upskilling.

In the heart of our area, which is best known for manufacturing, Sandwell is rich in educational opportunities through organisations such as Sandwell College, or upskilling through apprenticeships.

As part of the objectives of Sandwell Business Ambassadors, we have a keen focus on increasing knowledge and skills in the area through speaker opportunities, social media awareness and in-depth articles

A number of the Ambassadors work in organisations that offer apprenticeship schemes, particularly topical at a time when apprenticeships are down by more than a third compared to 2016 and we are strongly championing such opportunities in the region. We have such fantastic opportunities available here on our doorstep and we really want as many people as possible to be aware of them and take full advantage of them.

One such company is voestalpine Metsec plc – the UK’s largest specialist steel cold roll-forming company. Metsec has taken on more than 100 engineering apprentices over the last two decades. All Metsec apprentices have access to the latest technology in its state-of-the-art training facility, providing hands-on experience as well as a thorough understanding of each area of the business. The apprenticeship scheme has been incredibly successful since its inception in 1998, with employees rising through the ranks to managerial and even director level roles.

There is also a training event next month, being hosted by fellow Sandwell Ambassador John Wood of Oldbury-based Liberty Engineering – the Careers Open Morning at an International and Manufacturing Business event – which is part of the Black Country Business Festival. It offers an insight into what a career in the engineering and manufacturing industry has to offer and the different paths that can be taken to get there.

Education and upskilling has never been more important and available in Sandwell. It’s so important for young people in the area to be aware of the fantastic opportunities available to them and, in today’s competitive job market, it’s never been more crucial to upskill as much as possible to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

The author is Principal and Chief Executive at Sandwell College and a member of the Sandwell Business Ambassadors, a consortium of business leaders in Sandwell formed to represent business interests in the area.