New approach to learning will meet skills needs of Lancashire economy
UCLan and Preston’s College to pilot dual-teaching model
The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Preston’s College are working together to address a regional skills shortage using a new approach to education that blends degree level learning with vocational training.
The project, which will initially focus on engineering, construction and the creative industries, will allow students on UCLan degrees to take complementary vocational courses at Preston’s College that will enhance their existing skills and further enable them to make a positive and direct contribution to the economy.
This may include an architecture student taking a BTEC Level 3 diploma in construction to develop a wider knowledge of the industry, or a fine art student looking to set up their own business taking a basic accountancy course. The aim of the venture is to meet the skills deficit in the region, significantly improving the employability of graduates by supplementing their existing knowledge with additional practical skills.
"The main aim is to produce a pool of talented, work-ready graduates, who have the skills to succeed and meet business demands."
After being awarded the maximum amount of £50,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to kick-start the initiative, UCLan and Preston’s College will act as a national pilot for this new dual approach to learning with support from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas said: “As partners already closely collaborating on apprenticeship development, UCLan and Preston’s College recognise that graduates’ skillsets can be significantly enhanced by continuing to learn further education practical skills whilst undertaking university education.
“The main aim is to produce a pool of talented, work-ready graduates, who have the skills to succeed and meet business demands. As Lancashire’s economy is predicted to grow by 27% over the next 10 years, it is more important than ever that we address this skills gap and listen to what business leaders want from graduates.”
Dr Lis Smith, Principal and Chief Executive at Preston’s College, commented: “The project further cements the developing partnership between the University and College which ultimately will provide employers with work-ready employees who have much more added-value alongside their degree qualification, including a practical skillset suitable for the modern day workforce.”
"The project further cements the developing partnership between the University and College which ultimately will provide employers with work-ready employees who have much more added-value alongside their degree qualification."
It is envisaged that the UCLan and Preston’s College pilot will act as a blueprint for this new duel-learning approach to education that is already popular in Scandinavia and could potentially be rolled out more widely to other higher and further institutions in the future.
UCLan is one of 67 universities and colleges to have been collectively awarded £2.8 million from HEFCE to develop small-scale experimental innovations in learning and teaching.
HEFCE’s Chief Executive, Madeleine Atkins, said: “We were delighted by the level of interest from universities and colleges in developing new ways of working and are pleased to be funding such an exciting range of learning and teaching innovations. We look forward to working with the project organisations to share the lessons across the sector.”