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FE News | Career Colleges celebrates ten years pioneering industry-led skills-based education in the

Career Colleges Trust (CCT) has established 30 sector-specialist colleges and launched new qualifications and pathways in supply chain, construction, digital, and more. CCT has impacted the employer-led education of more than 5,000 students – to deliver opportunities for all.

Career Colleges Trust (CCT) was founded by the former Education Secretary, Lord Baker, who wanted to develop a charity focused on delivering the skills needed by industry to increase the prospects for people from all backgrounds: a vision that remains true for the Trust today, and one that is today echoed by the Government through their Local Skills Improvement Plans and Levelling Up initiative.

Lord Kenneth Baker of Dorking, said:

“When I conceived the idea of the Career Colleges Trust, it was to capitalise on the potential impact of bringing together the vast capacity of FE colleges, industry expertise and awarding organisations, with the power to refine qualifications and ensure education designed to build the skills needed for the world of work – this can only be done through industry-led design and delivery, with very practical emphasis on experiencing the world of work. 

“The Trust’s work is pioneering – notably most recently leading the development in digital construction, working closely with Sir Robert McAlpine Limited and a network of FE colleges across Scotland and England, to ensure young people and adults are equipped with the skills required for our digital economy and modern work practices.

“Careers-not-courses is the focus of the Career Colleges Trust. We have and continue to ensure that young people and adults have the opportunity to not only gain nationally recognised qualifications but also critically gain the skills and experience they need to be ready for the work environment, through industry projects, extended work experience and industry mentors.  

“Career College students stand out on job applications for their industry experience and communication skills.”

Lord Kenneth Baker of Dorking, added:

“A great deal of concern and focus of our Government is on Levelling Up – improving social mobility and tackling disadvantage at the roots. Skills acquisition, and creating industry-led career opportunities (not just jobs) are vital to improving the work and life prospects of our communities. To this end, the Career Colleges Trust fulfils a vital role linking employers directly to local training, shaping the training to industry standards and ensuring local people have the best career opportunities – often in sectors they did not perceive open to them.”

Bev Jones, CEO of Career Colleges Trust, shared her views on the work of the charity:

“Having been involved in the development of the Career Colleges Trust from its inception, supporting skills development shaped by industry for industry, it’s pleasing to see government policy align with our ambitions through the creation of Local Skills Improvement Plans, creating practical skills training in specialist subjects to ensure the next generation of talent. Employers are the key to creating an employer-led education system and we have found that their support for our model has grown, particularly as they recognise the need to develop professional digital skills in the current and future workforce.”

Bev Jones, CEO of Career Colleges Trust, continued:

“The work of the Trust has made a real difference to employers, learners, teachers and industry; from the roll-out of a digital literacy curriculum for construction to our international supply chain management qualifications. We’ve also set-up four national employer advisory boards in logistics and digital construction; and provided over 2,000 hours of staff training to support teachers embedding project-based learning, enterprise, resilience and digital skills into their vocational curriculum and schools, which has had a positive effect on more than 5,000 learners across the UK.” 

“And, of course, we couldn’t have driven change without the support of our employer and further education partners, which have been vital to the success and impact of the Trust’s work. Their input into the design and development of industry-led pathways and training in digital construction, logistics, digital technology, healthcare, engineering and hospitality as well as participation in employer boards, has been transformational. Their role has strengthened local and regional industry and college networks – and made it clearer what skills are needed by employers.”

Grant Findlay, Executive Managing Director for Buildings at Sir Robert McAlpine, said: 

“We are thrilled to celebrate the Career Colleges Trust’s 10th anniversary. As the skills shortage is an ever growing concern for the industry, the Career Colleges Trust brings practical solutions to equip the new generation with the right set of skills and help them achieve successful and rewarding careers. This is, of course, essential to attract a diversity of people into the sector and unlock the potential of our future workforce. We are incredibly proud to have supported the establishment of the first Career College in Scotland in 2019, and to contribute our knowledge and expertise to the Digital Construction Project. Long may the Career Colleges Trust’s exemplary, collaborative work continue.” 

Alison Maynard, Deputy Principal at New College Durham, added:

“It is with great pride and enthusiasm that we join The Careers Colleges Trust in celebrating their remarkable journey as they mark their 10-year anniversary. Over the past decade, the Trust has been at the forefront of transforming education and vocational training, equipping young individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to excel in their chosen careers.

“At New College Durham, we’ve had the privilege of collaborating closely with the Trust, witnessing first-hand the positive impact it has had on our students’ lives. Together, we’ve empowered countless young minds to dream bigger, reach higher, and achieve their aspirations.

“As we reflect on the past and look forward to the future, we remain committed to the shared vision of The Careers Colleges Trust. Here’s to another decade of innovation, excellence, and opportunity for all. Congratulations on this remarkable milestone and may the next ten years be filled with even greater success and prosperity.”

Edward Flack, a former learner of Barking and Dagenham Career College, shares his thoughts on the impact of this style of learning and the opportunities it provided.

“The experience the career colleges gave me allowed me to jump ahead in my career as it gave me experience, I could use and refer to when getting my apprenticeship. After being kicked out of sixth form I was a year behind my friends, but after my apprenticeship finished, I became a Senior Software Engineer with a degree with first class honours. I now get to train grads, interns, and apprentices, as well as lead some important projects within Ford.”  

Ruth Gilbert, Chair of Career Colleges Trust, shared her views on what’s next for the charity: 

“Career Colleges Trust is set to further diversify its industry engagement as a result of the Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs); we see the Government’s focus on regional skills and Levelling Up as an opportunity for the Trust to collaborate closely with regional devolved authorities and Local Skills Improvement Plan Boards, to integrate the Trust’s work to support regional imperatives.” 

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