Higher Level Skills Match Partnership success
BCU, Aston University and Newman University were awarded the Building Effective Partnerships Award for the collaborative Higher Level Skills Match (HLSM) project at the AGCAS (Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services) Awards for Excellence 2020 showcase webinar on 14 July.
HLSM is a unique collaborative project positioning BCU, Aston University and Newman University in partnership with local authorities in Cannock Chase, Lichfield, Tamworth, and North Worcestershire. Part funded by the European Social Fund, HLSM tackles the gap between the future skills required by businesses, and the skills currently held by the workforce.
HLSM targeted skills challenges impacting local economic growth within Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP’s priority growth sectors, signed agreements with 329 businesses and completed 189 skills projects whilst engaging over 1200 students and graduates on initiatives including paid jobs, work experience and mentoring.
A key HLSM innovation was its Account Management service delivery model – providing a single point of contact from an HLSM partner as a gateway to all partner Institutions products and services for ‘time poor’ SMEs. Due to the initial success of HLSM, the partnership has been extended and will continue to support businesses in the GBSLEP area.
Craig Walsh, HLSM Programme Manager for BCU comments;
“It is an absolute honour to win the Building Effective Partnerships Award. From the very outset in November 2017, Higher Level Skills Match sought to bring together partners from Higher Education, Local Authorities, Jobcentre Plus and other local skills providers. This enabled the project to exceed targets and have huge benefits to local businesses alongside the graduate talent pool of the three Universities involved. The success of the partnership has enabled several other funding opportunities to be realised and we look forward to further strengthening those partnerships throughout the delivery of those opportunities”.
Student Placement excellence
A Micro-Placement programme delivered by the BCU careers service Careers+ won the Award for Excellence in Education and Training at the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) Awards. Originally scheduled to be held at the ICC in March, the Awards were announced on Thursday 23 July during a special live online broadcast by the Chamber.
The Micro-Placement Programme ran in the summer of 2019, offering flexible short-term work placement opportunities for students – helping them be business ready and supporting local businesses to grow and innovate by giving them access to young talent.
The initial Micro-Placement target was to offer 100 placements. Demand was so strong from both students and employers that over 130 placements were arranged with 80 local businesses.
One of the unique features of the programme was the flexibility built into the initial four-week placement schedule to meet the needs of students and employers – enabling students working part-time elsewhere to maintain these roles. Placements ran over 12 weeks with some students completing four weeks full-time and others up to eight weeks part-time. Bursaries were also introduced following a pilot project which highlighted finance as a potential barrier to student uptake. In total, BCU invested over £100,000 in bursaries covering travel and other expenses removing financial barriers to participation, and enabling businesses to access talent.
Matt Till, Assistant Director for Careers, commented;
“We are absolutely delighted that the Micro Placements programme has been recognised with this award. Delivering the programme was a great team effort and just one of the many innovative approaches that we have at BCU to boost the employability prospects of our students and graduates.”
“Every placement we offered last year was an opportunity for a student to work on a real life project directly linked to their career ambitions, and making a meaningful contribution to their placement employer. Because of the way we focused the recruitment for Micro-Placement students, we were also able to ensure that the vast majority were from widening participation backgrounds where additional support of this nature is crucial”.
BCU also had a shortlisted entry in the Excellence in Technology and Innovation category at the GBCC Awards through STEAMhouse. The award was won by TerraQuest Solutions Ltd – the UK’s largest specialist provider of land referencing services.
To find the right skills support for your business, including micro-placements, please send HLSM an enquiry.