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The STEM Agenda Putting Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths on the Map

City College Plymouth Kings Road, Devonport, Plymouth, PL1 5QG T: 01752 305026 E:

If you require this newsletter in larger type or a different format please telephone 01752 305300.

From the Editor

Welcome to the latest edition of EmployerLink; City College Plymouth’s newsletter for employers. Our focus in this, our spring edition, is on science,

technology, engineering and maths. Commonly known as STEM, these areas of study and work are becoming of increasing importance within education as schools, colleges and universities look to increasing opportunities for students to study STEM focussed subjects. Our lead article on page one examines the STEM agenda and what it means for businesses, and highlights the College’s commitment to embedding the STEM agenda across its curriculum. The opportunity for businesses to benefit from our approach to offer STEMbased skills training can be seen in the employer case

study, which can be found on page two. The College worked closely with local employer, Bandvulc, in order to support staff in gaining skills and an understanding of business improvement techniques. In order to support our aim to encourage interest and engagement in STEM-based subjects we are investing in the refurbishment of our construction facilities. You can read all about this exciting project and find out how you can get involved on page five. Our calendar of employer dinners and seminars continues to attract great interest and information about our next two seminars and

how you can book your place to attend can be found on page four. I hope you enjoy reading your copy of EmployerLink. We aim to keep you informed with all the latest education and training news, but if there is a topic you would like to see covered please contact the editor via e-mail at

Sharron Robbie Editor

Message from the Principal

Young people today are excited about technology. They are more plugged in than any generation before them - texting on mobile phones, playing interactive video games and relying on their laptops and phones for updates on social media websites.

We need to harness that curiosity by connecting the technologies that are part of their everyday lives to the maths and science concepts that make it happen. This is vitally important as the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields are collectively considered core technology underpinnings of an advanced society. In many forums the strength of the STEM workforce is viewed as an indicator of a nation’s ability to sustain itself. The British government over recent years has introduced policies, guidelines and legislation in an attempt to improve and maintain our country’s competitiveness in the STEM industries; it is of vital importance to our economy that we continue to support and grow skilled scientists and engineers.

The Confederation of British Industry estimates that by 2014 there will be unmet demand for 775,000 roles requiring higher level STEM skills. Despite the recession, 45% of employers report difficulty recruiting people with STEM skills. That is why it’s more imperative than ever to support programmes that make STEM education accessible and compelling - we need to encourage the students of today to pursue careers in STEM related fields. The opportunity cost for not addressing this challenge is too high for us to ignore. At City College Plymouth we are encouraging participation and engagement with STEM subjects - we provide a wide range of study within engineering, science, construction and IT to higher education levels.

Ensuring students gain an understanding and level of competency in STEM-based subjects is helping us to improve the employability prospects of students, and is supporting the local labour market by providing a pool of workers who have the right skills for today’s technological industries. By making science, technology, engineering and maths accessible, relevant and fun for students - regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic background - we prepare them for success and foster a passion for technology and invention that will inspire and ignite our future workforce.

Viv Gillespie Principal

The STEM Agenda STEM - What is it?

What we are doing

The term STEM is being heard more and more as the government and industry leaders have realised the importance of ensuring that Britain can create a strong supply of scientists, researchers, engineers and technologists.

City College Plymouth is supporting the business community through: • embedding literacy and numeracy across all our provision

The STEM subjects, and how they are promoted and taught, are of increasing relevance and importance in today’s workplace. It is vital that growth within STEM sector industries is supported, as this will enable the UK economy to compete globally. By increasing students’ STEM skills we can support business and the economy by: • providing employers with the skills they need in their workforce • helping maintain the UK’s global competiveness • supporting the aim of making the UK a world-leader in science-based research and development. A survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in 2008 highlighted that: • nine out of ten organisations employ STEM-skilled people • STEM skills are being increasingly sought in sales and marketing teams

• investing in the latest technologies College engineering students within workshops and vocational areas, such as rapid prototyping • working in partnership with employers, such as Babcock, BD, Pipex and Princess Yachts to support the future business needs for a skilled and competent workforce • promoting STEM subjects and career opportunities via events and workshops, such as our highly successful Technology, Engineering and Construction Opportunities Open Day, our week-long focus on STEM subjects during Science and Engineering Week and our Women into Technology event, which promotes career opportunities within the sector to young women. The College continually reviews its provision to ensure that we are able to offer training and courses that fit with the wider STEM agenda. The positive working relationships we have with businesses provides us with important employer feedback and labour market information, helping us to make informed decisions around course content and to respond effectively to changes in the skills and competencies demanded by the economy and the labour market.

• 40% of employers require STEM-skilled people to support innovation, design and product development. The survey also highlighted the problems UK businesses have in recruiting high calibre candidates, from technician/craft level up, due to a lack of STEM skills.

The business benefits of STEM As more and more businesses invest in new technologies they need a workforce that is skilled and competent across the STEM subjects. The focus on STEM skills ensures a skilled workforce for the labour market. Being able to access a workforce which is STEM-skilled provides businesses with an opportunity to compete effectively, enabling them to make use of new technologies and to take advantage of the opportunity to develop a highly skilled and motivated workforce.

TEC Opps Open Day

Visitors at the Pipex stand

The College opened its doors to over 500 visitors at its Technology, Engineering and Construction Opportunities Open Day in February. The event, which was supported by Plymouth Construction Training and Construction Skills, provided visitors with an opportunity to tour the College’s industry-standard facilities and talk to staff and current students about the career opportunities and training routes available within the technology, engineering and construction sectors. Visitors to the event were also able to meet with local and regional employers, including Princess Yachts, Babcock, BD, Interserve, Pipex Ltd and Balfour Beatty, who were promoting their Apprenticeship vacancies.


Employer Case Study Keeping the Wheels of Industry Turning City College Plymouth has helped team leaders and supervisors at Bandvulc Tyres to become more motivated and efficient whilst helping them to develop a better understanding of the business. Bandvulc, which was set-up over 40 years ago by brothers John and Richard O’Connell, has grown to become the most innovative tyre re-cycling company in the UK. Producing some 3,500 tyres per week from its Devon-based facility, the company has its own compound mixing works, tyre management and call handling operation under one roof.

New NVQs for Laboratory Technicians City College Plymouth has recently expanded its provision to offer laboratory technician qualifications as a national vocational qualification (NVQ) at levels 2, 3 and 4. The College is one of the few training providers in the South West to offer this exciting new NVQ subject, which will be of interest to those working in a laboratory environment. For more information please contact the College’s Employer Response team on 01752 305026.


The company continues to grow and with that comes a need for a workforce that is skilled and motivated. Working with City College Plymouth, Bandvulc has been able to offer its employees an opportunity to enhance skills and gain qualifications through a bespoke programme of training. The College was able to utilise available funding in order to design a bespoke programme of workshops, aimed at complementing the programme of Team Leading National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) which 16 members of staff were undertaking. The workshops, which ran over three days, covered the roles and responsibilities of the team leader and also gave an introduction to business improvement techniques. The training that Bandvulc staff received has given Managing Director, Patrick O’Connell, an opportunity to rethink his opinion as to how training can benefit his company. Patrick said: “When I first met with City College Plymouth I was not sure how much value they would be able to add to my business. Looking back at what has been achieved I can honestly say that the College has made an immensely positive impact on our business. I have only good things to say about the service Bandvulc has received throughout this process.”

Patrick continued: “The workshops were designed well to fit in with the NVQ and everyone came out of the programme having learnt something.” In a sector where team leaders were often promoted into the role with little or no previous supervisory or management experience, Patrick has seen his workforce gain a real understanding of the business, as well as enabling them to develop greater cross-business communication skills which has seen an increase in the sharing of ideas and knowledge within the company. Patrick commented: “We have seen a real development in team spirit across the whole business. The team leaders and supervisors are now speaking more openly with each other. It has also helped us identify real potential with some of those who have been involved in the training programme, and this will support the company with its succession planning. “I would recommend any business to meet with City College Plymouth and to feel confident in the expertise the College can bring in supporting training and upskilling of the workforce, and helping to impact positively on business improvement.”

Health and Safety Seminar Over 40 employers attended a seminar that aimed to help dispel some of the myths around health and safety. Attendees heard from Ian Veater, Partner with Bright LLP, and Jim Evans, Health and Safety Adviser with Interserve Project Services Ltd. The event provided attendees with an opportunity to ask questions and enjoy a buffet and networking session following the formal presentations. To find out about our calendar of employer seminars please visit or call Sharron Robbie on 01752 305896. Guest speakers at the event

STEM and Higher Level Skills City College Plymouth’s higher education provision is centred on foundation degrees - vocational programmes designed in collaboration with relevant employment sectors, in order to meet their specific needs in terms of the knowledge and skills needed by people working in each sector. The College, therefore, makes a very significant contribution to the STEM agenda through offering a range of STEM-focussed higher education programmes. These programmes are available on a full or part-time basis over two or three years and include: • higher national certificates and foundation degrees in electrical and

Apprenticeship Week Dinner

Guest speaker, Richard Ellis

National Apprenticeship Week was celebrated in style at City College Plymouth with an employer dinner and after dinner speaker. Richard Ellis, of Interserve Project Services Ltd, shared his experiences of beginning his career as an apprentice bricklayer through to his present day position as South West Director with Interserve. Guests enjoyed a fabulous five-course dinner, prepared and served by the College’s hospitality students, which included seasonal wild mushrooms, locally sourced mackerel and beef, and a West Country cheese board. If you would like to join us at one of our employer dinners please visit or call Sharron Robbie on 01752 305896.

electronic engineering, mechanical design and manufacture, marine engineering, civil engineering and construction • foundation degrees in electrical engineering and renewable energy, and forensic science. In addition, as part of the College’s service to assist local organisations in meeting their workforce training and

Engineering Students Visit Power Station College students recently visited the Mary Tavy Power Station located within Dartmoor National Park. The station provides the majority of power for the Tavistock area and its outlying villages. The visit was organised as part of the College’s BTEC Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Students were able to see first-hand how theory is

business development needs, we offer opportunities to study up to any three individual STEM-related modules. These include: • maths • site surveying • civil engineering surveying procedures • introduction to computer-aided design and ICT. Delivery and duration can be flexible to fit with an organisation’s needs. If you would like to find out more about higher level skills and how they could benefit your business please call our Employer Response team on 01752 305026 or e-mail

College students visit Mary Tavy Power Station

implemented into practice and gained a real understanding about how electricity is made and how it is distributed via the National Grid. Ian Luya, engineering lecturer, said: “These visits really add to our students’ learning experience. They provide an opportunity to see the practical application of theoretical processes, which are taught in the classroom.”

SKILLS FOR LIFE If you or your staff are feeling a bit rusty or need help updating your skills in English and maths then City College Plymouth can help! • All courses are FREE. • No entry qualifications are needed. • Students are given a personal programme of work, tailored to their needs.

• Students are encouraged to take nationally recognised qualifications. • The courses run subject to numbers and can be delivered within your workplace if there is enough interest.

To find out more call 01752 305300 PAGE 03

Forthcoming Events

Employer Seminars

Apprenticeship Open Day Learning Warehouse, Union Street, Plymouth Saturday 2 July, 10.00am - 3.00pm Would you like to find out how apprentices can benefit your business? Our team of experts in our Work-based Learning department can help you access a large pool of enthusiastic, motivated and work-ready students who are seeking Apprenticeship opportunities. Remember, Apprenticeships now cover a huge range of work sectors and are not just limited to vocational trades. Some of the Apprenticeships we offer include: • boat building • customer service • laboratory technicians • vehicle engineering

• business administration • information technology • plastering • wall and floor tiling.

To find out more about Apprenticeships or to attend the Open Day please call our Work-based Learning team on 01752 251866.

Would your business benefit from a more skilled and well trained workforce? Would you like to find out more about City College Plymouth and how it can help YOUR business? The College’s Employer Response team provides a single point of contact for employers. Their professional service includes: • help with accessing funding • training needs analysis • design of bespoke training to meet your company’s specific needs. If you would like one of our Business Skills Advisors to contact you please call 01752 305026 or e-mail


Continuing our focus on building strong, positive relationships with the business community we are delighted to be hosting a number of employer seminars over the coming months. Each seminar will focus on a particular area of business and will feature industry experts.

Social Media - The Business Benefits and Potential Risks Tuesday 17 May, 6.00pm - 8.00pm Are you tweeting? Does your business have its own Facebook page? Are you LinkedIn? How are you communicating with your customers? This seminar looks at the benefits of using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to communicate with customers, and the potential risks associated with doing so. This seminar is aimed at those responsible for using social networking mediums to communicate with their customers, or potential customers. Delegates will hear from Matt Huddleson, Partner with Foot Anstey Solicitors. Matt will be using case studies to highlight the pitfalls social media sites can bring to business, whilst also gaining an insight into how to effectively manage this growing phenomenon.

PR on a Shoe String Wednesday 13 July, 6.00pm - 8.00pm This seminar is aimed at those with responsibility for raising brand awareness and company profile within their organisation. Learn how to get good PR without having to pay large agency fees and discover creative ideas to enhance your unique selling points and stand out from the competition. Delegates will hear from Jonathan Mills, Managing Director of Formedia, one of the South West's leading marketing and public relations companies. Jonathan will share his top tips and reveal some of the tricks of the trade, giving delegates an opportunity to take away some valuable and practical tools on how to gain column inches! Tickets for the seminars, which will take place in our Cité Restaurant at Kings Road, cost just £15.00 (inclusive of refreshments and buffet). Places are limited so call 01752 305896 or e-mail to book today!

Rapid Prototyping As part of our focus on raising the levels of STEM-based skills, the College has invested in rapid prototyping equipment and software to enable students to work with the latest design equipment and IT applications.

• maths - used to form three-dimensional geometric shapes, which cannot be produced using normal printing methods.

Rapid prototyping - what is it?

The primary advantage of the process is in its ability to create almost any shape or geometric feature.

Rapid prototyping is a scientific and technological application which enables the creation of life-like models from concept designs and drawings. A 3D printer is used to create models using a binding solution, which prints in layers rather than ink. Typically, a model is created by laying down approximately 5001,000 layers using a special powder mixture. The application can be used across a number of areas, including: • engineering - used to create a true representation of mechanical piece parts, which can be used to test that parts fit correctly before full production

How it can be used There are a myriad of ways in which rapid prototyping can be used - the application is a real opportunity for businesses to access opportunities for innovation, design, new product development and testing. Businesses can use the models: • in client presentations • to illustrate design concepts • in product marketing and testing • in media applications - to produce models for animation. Being able to produce real-life working models enables production of prototypes and allows for research and development, and market testing of new products and innovations - modifications can then be made prior to full production commencing. Product and market testing provides valuable market intelligence and can save manufacturers time and money.

using the software to design a remote controlled underwater camera system. The College is currently developing a service which will allow local businesses to supply the College with details of its products in order to create 3D models. The scheme is being piloted with Architectural Consultants in an attempt to develop a process to enable detailed architectural models to be produced from standard architectural drawings. The opportunity for the College to add further support to the business community by offering such a service and the inclusion of the process within the curriculum highlights our commitment to, and recognition of, the importance of the STEM agenda.

College students are benefitting from being able to access this high-tech equipment with engineering graduates from Babcock

Construction Refurbishment As part of our continued focus on being the South West’s leading provider of innovative, skills-based vocational education and training City College Plymouth is investing in a major refurbishment of its construction training centre. Our exciting plans will ensure that our construction facilities contain state-of-the art workshops and equipment for students, enabling them to study in an environment which inspires learning, whilst educating our industry’s future workforce about new energy technologies and working practices which fit with a greener agenda. The refurbishment and re-design plans will create a high-tech centre with a range of trade-themed workshop areas and a new

main entrance and reception area with plasma screens and interactive systems to provide a showcase area for businesses. A new energy centre will also be created to display the latest low carbon technology products and systems, and will have its own training facilities, interactive displays and workshop area. Adrian Heath, Head of Faculty of Construction, said: “I am excited about the new developments taking place within my faculty. The new training facilities will enhance students’ learning experience and help place the College at the forefront of learning in the city for the construction sector. “We are keen to ensure that the centre really adds value to our students, and by

providing new entrants with great facilities to learn their trade and giving local businesses an opportunity to upskill their employees using the latest information and equipment, we will ensure the benefits are passed on to industry.” There are a number of opportunities for businesses to get involved with our exciting plans through sponsorship of workshops and/or equipment. If you would like to find out how you can get involved, please contact the editor on 01752 305896.


Employer Short Courses @ City College Plymouth We have a range of short courses designed to support you and your business, ensuring that you meet workplace legislation whilst also protecting your customers and your workforce.

Course Title Business Skills Workshops Assertiveness and Communication Skills Customer Excellence Effective Performance Appraisals Equality and Diversity Minute Taking Report Writing The New Team Leader Electrical Installation Electrical Installation Inspection, Testing and Certification Fundamental Inspection, Testing and Initial Verification Portable Appliance Testing Wiring Regulations 17th Edition First Aid Emergency First Aid Certificate First Aid at Work Certificate First Aid Requalification Certificate Hair and Beauty Advanced Cutting Barbering Techniques Cutting and Colouring Dressing Long Hair and Braiding Make-up and False Eyelash Application Nail Art Waxing Health and Safety Managing Safely - IOSH Managing Safely - IOSH Management Management, Level 5 - CMI

Below are a few of the courses available to you and your business. Please note that on occasions course dates/times may change. To book on any of these courses, please call us on 01752 305026 or e-mail


Start Date




Thursday Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday Thursday Tuesday Tuesday

07/07/11 10/05/11 07/06/11 05/07/11 12/05/11 14/06/11 28/06/11

9.00am - 4.30pm 9.00am - 12.30pm 9.00am - 12.30pm 9.00am - 4.30pm 9.00am - 4.30pm 9.00am - 12.30pm 9.00am - 4.30pm

One day Half day Half day One day One day Half day One day

£120 £80 £80 £120 £120 £80 £120

Monday - Wednesday Tuesday - Friday Monday - Friday

16/05/11 07/06/11 23/05/11

9.00am - 4.00pm 9.00am - 4.00pm 9.00am - 4.00pm

Three days Four days Five days

£595 £595 £600

Monday Wednesday - Friday

20/06/11 11/05/11

9.00am - 4.00pm 8.30am - 4.00pm

One day Three days

£220 £475

Various Various Various

Weekly Weekly Weekly

9.00am - 4.00pm 9.00am - 4.00pm 9.00am - 4.00pm

One day Three days Two days

£45 £160 £90

Tuesday Wednesdays Wednesday - Thursday Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday

31/05/11 11/05/11 27/07/11 31/05/11 31/05/11 31/05/11 31/05/11

9.30am - 4.00pm 5.30pm - 8.30pm 9.30am - 4.00pm 9.30am - 4.00pm 9.30am - 4.00pm 9.30am - 4.00pm 9.30am - 4.00pm

One day Ten weeks Two days One day One day One day One day

£75 £370 £170 £75 £75 £75 £75

Wednesdays Monday - Friday

11/05/11 27/06/11

9.00am - 5.00pm 9.00am - 5.00pm

Five weeks Five days

£395 £395



9.00am - 4.30pm

Five weeks


Mailing List If you have received a copy of this newsletter from a colleague and would like to be added to our mailing list, or you would like to be removed from our mailing list, please telephone 01752 305896 or e-mail your name, job title, company name and full address to

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EmployerLink Spring 2011  

Employer Newsletter

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