Robert Halfon, Minister of State at the Department of Education and Siobhan Baille, MP for Stroud visit SGS College
South Gloucestershire and Stroud College were delighted to host a visit from Robert Halfon, Minister of State at the Department for Education and MP for Stroud, Siobhan Baille, on Thursday 16th March.
Mr Halfon’s role within the Department for Education is to champion education and apprenticeships and to secure more funding for schools and colleges as well as creating thousands of new apprenticeship opportunities for young people.
The Minister’s visit enabled him to see SGS College’s state-of-the-art training facilities and talk with staff, students and apprentices about how skills, education and training can support people into future security and sustainable employment. Staff spoke about the benefits of apprenticeships and T Levels – including the combination of hands-on work placements and college-based learning.
SGS is a general further education college, offering a broad range of full and part-time higher and further education provision to over 8000 learners (4000 full-time 16-19-year olds, 2000 apprentices and nearly 5000 adult learners).
Apprenticeship provision at the College has seen a significant growth in numbers over recent years and facilitates intermediate, advanced and higher-level learning opportunities across the majority of subject areas.
The College works with major employers on apprenticeships including Coutts Bank, NHS, Dyson, Boeing and Raytheon as well as many local authorities and has recently invested £1.5m in order to develop an offsite Construction Apprenticeship facility in Bristol, named SGS Horizon.
The Minster was impressed by the vocational facilities on offer at the College which include purpose-built hair and beauty salons, construction workshops (electrical, carpentry, plumbing and brick) and an animal science room: all with cutting edge technology.
The Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, said:
“I was delighted to visit SGS College to see its top of the range facilities and to talk to the inspiring student and apprentices who benefit from them.
This college is helping us to transform the skills landscape in Gloucestershire and beyond, extending the ladder of opportunity to all through high-quality skills programmes like apprenticeships and T Levels that support students into rewarding careers and future employment opportunities.”
Siobhan Baillie, MP for Stroud, added:
“It was inspirational to meet apprentices with the minister at such a great college we are lucky to have right here in our constituency.
These young people gave us really candid views about how to encourage more people into the system so it can be successful and the minister’s aids were scribbling them down.
The whole SGS College team is doing phenomenal work and they showcased this well to the minister as well as giving us some feedback on what Government can be doing better.
Further education must continue to be a focus in Westminster and I will make sure that happens in my role as an FE ambassador.
I recently signed a joint MPs’ letter to the Chancellor calling for more money for colleges to keep FE on the agenda at the Treasury.”
Sara-Jane Watkins, SGS College Principal, commented:
“We really valued the opportunity to meet with the Minister today in order to share the positive impact that the College and our amazing staff have on the lives of so many learners, of all ages. We support the vision that this Government has for skills and recognise the focus that they now have on colleges in terms of delivering their skills agenda. We also used today's meeting to discuss the immense challenges we face as a sector and how further education funding has reduced significantly over the last decade whilst investment continues to be made in other areas of the education sector. We need to be funded at a similar rate to universities if we are expected to attract and recruit the highly experienced and skilled workforce that is needed to train the workforce for the future.”