On 26th February Louise Tearle, Partnership Director of WYCC and Joanne Patrickson, Director of Business Development at Leeds City College spoke at the Association of Colleges (AoC) Business Development Conference in London. The focus of their presentation was commercial opportunities for Colleges and how new business opportunities can be developed through collaboration and partnership working.
The AoC Business Conference focussed on overcoming the tough economic climate posed by reduced funding allocations and the role colleges must take in looking at the underlying principles and new practices to help enable growth and subsequently increase income.
Innovative partnership working that has led to both an established working relationship with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and the successful bidding for a number of funded projects on behalf of a consortium was the reason Joanne and Louise were invited to present.
Pioneering relationship with the LEP
The strong working partnership between the colleges in West Yorkshire, which in turn has led to the creation of the Leeds City Region Skills Network; a partnership of leaders from across the education and training sector has resulted in a pioneering relationship with the LEP. The Skills Network members have signed up to a Partnership Agreement with the LEP to increase employer and individuals engagement and investment in skills, strengthen joint working between employers, the LEP and skills providers and improve the effectiveness of skills investment.
Additionally, the WYCC partnership approach has seen the colleges secure a number of large-scale funded projects. Colleges, as the Accountable Body, have been able to secure over £70M worth of Skills Funding on behalf of the SFA to deliver work-based training, making the consortium the largest UK provider of European Social Funded training, managing over 50% of provision within the UK.
The latest accolade for the partnership is the backing of the consortium which includes Leeds City College and Calderdale College, who secured the LEP Skills Service for Leeds City Region, a £15 million fund to support SMEs to develop the skills of their workforce, provide them with tailored training and facilitate growth.
Louise Tearle, Partnerships Director of West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC) said,
“Partnership working in order to meet the needs of businesses within Leeds City Region is something WYCC sees as a key priority for future growth and Colleges must engage with the local economy in order to position themselves as key drivers for a skilled labour market . Collaborative working has been an extremely effective mechanism for engaging more directly with businesses and working together with the LEP to achieve shared ambitions of a highly skilled workforce. Together, members of WYCC and the Skills Network provide a partnership approach in response to the Local Enterprise Partnership's vision to anticipate and meet the needs of employers.”
Joanne Patrickson, Director of Business Development at Leeds City College said,
“Speaking at the Association of Colleges Business Development Conference provided us with the perfect opportunity to showcase the work currently underway in Leeds City Region. Through strong partnership working between educational institutions within the region, we have been able to maximaise on opportunities for income generation. This collaborative approach has been shown to be advantageous for all partners and I’m pleased to have been able to promote this at the AoC conference. I was able to share best practice including the benefits to colleges of working in this way, as well as challenges to be aware of and how best to overcome them.”
Mark Lunn, Director of External Funding at Calderdale College said,
“Calderdale College are the accountable body on behalf of West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges for a number of large-scale funded projects. Through working together with the shared ambition of upskilling the Leeds City Region, the Colleges have been able to achieve great things, which individual organisations may not have been able to. The Colleges have been successful in securing the £43 million Workplace Learning programme and £37 million Skills Enhancement Fund, which aim to upskill employed individuals in Yorkshire and Humber as well as right throughout the North of England. More recently the Colleges have secured a project designed to improve levels of Maths and English within Yorkshire and the North of England. By working as a collaborative partnership the Colleges have had a huge positive impact on upskilling the workforce of Leeds City Region and beyond”.