Employers want the government to back flexible placements for students.
This was a key talking point during a meeting earlier this month at the West London Institute of Technology (IoT) based at Uxbridge College, attended by Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson.
As the IoT’s anchor partner employers, Fujitsu, Heathrow, Flannery, West London Business, and HS2 attended the roundtable event with other partners, including Jisc, represented by account manager, Graeme McDowall.
There was consensus among the employers that, since businesses and colleges see flexible hybrid working as a permanent fixture for students and employees, this model should be replicated for work placement schemes. Technology will play an essential part in facilitating this.
Secretary Williamson agreed to look at how government could support the idea. His visit was part of celebrations on 8 July of IoTs’ collaborations between further education (FE) providers, universities and employers.
IoTs specialise in delivering higher technical education and apprenticeships with a focus on STEM subjects, such as engineering, digital and construction. Jisc is an employer partner organisation that supports several IoTs.
The lack of high-level digital skills in the labour market and among graduates was also raised by the employers. To help tackle this, they suggested:
- Promotion of the IoT to learners as young as 12 or 13
- Raising awareness of the types of digital and technical careers that will be important to this age group
- Campaigning to learners' parents that university isn’t the only option, and that technical pathways offer equally meaningful employment opportunities
Williamson said IoTs should also focus on upskilling and reskilling adults as well as the more traditional college cohorts. He also highlighted that colleges must do more to meet the needs of the labour market and make employer-driven decision to hasten this.
Like IoTs across the country, West London IoT is driving positive change across STEM sectors, addressing important skill gaps and increasing the nation’s productivity.
To demonstrate how it’s working towards this goal, the visitors made a tour of the facilities, which included an aerodynamics lab, a wind turbine, an engineering lab for testing different materials to determine their strengths, properties and real-world application, 3D printers and an electric vehicle simulator.