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Curriculum 5

College sets New Year Resolution to collaborate with employers on 2030 Curriculum Strategy

In keeping with the time of year, York College & University Centre have made a resolution to work even closer with employers as part of our 2030 Curriculum Strategy.

We may be mere hours into 2024, but we are already looking ahead to what skills our students might need from the next decade onwards as local businesses continue to adapt to a fast-changing world.

During the final month of last year, an Employer Curriculum Review was held at York Sports Club on Shipton Road with some of College’s key stakeholders invited to give their input on how our provision might be adapted to reflect their current and future workplace requirements.

Those discussions will now help form our blueprint for tailoring our teaching in a manner that will best benefit our students and the region’s industrial landscape.

The 2030 Curriculum Strategy – and College’s commitment to collaborating with local businesses on its make-up – was warmly received by those at last month’s event, hosted by York College & University Centre Acting Chief Executive and Principal Ken Merry.

Adam Wardale, Chair of Hospitality Association York and General Manager of Middletons Hotel, was among those in attendance and welcomed the opportunity to engage in “interesting conversations” around the curriculum, speaking in specific terms about one qualification that could be implemented into College’s hospitality courses to enhance students’ future career prospects.

“The Association already has a very good relationship with the college,” he said. “We were at the recent Student Showcase in the Ashfields Restaurant and were lucky enough to sample the Tasting Menu which was stunning, so we are always keen to engage more with the college.

“It’s always useful to learn more about some of the courses and to consider where we can add value in terms of guidance regarding the skills that we need for our workforce. There were a lot of interesting conversations and a lot of our suggestions were taken onboard, including some industry qualifications that tutors might not have been aware of that would be useful for us.

“We spoke about whether some of the hospitality modules could start to include the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) qualification. The WSET Level 1 course is six hours’ learning that perhaps could be delivered on-site with an exam and that would then give the students a really good qualification to go to a hotel, a wine bar or a restaurant with some really good wine and spirits knowledge.

“It would put them a step ahead of some of the CVs we see come through. We also had conversations around soft skills such as problem solving and resilience and the need to see more of that from the workforce coming out of the college.

“We touched upon time-keeping and being able to organise workloads, too. If the college are responsive to what we’re suggesting and ready to implement change, then we also want to get onboard more in terms of activity, whether that’s show-arounds of hotels or some of us coming in and giving talks.”

Philippa Hobby, meanwhile, was representing food, environmental safety and agri-tech experts Fera Science Ltd at the Employer Curriculum Review as the company’s Head of Plant Protection Programme.

She also welcomed the 2030 Curriculum Strategy consultation process with Fera, whose York Biotech Campus is based in Sand Hutton, having an established history of recruiting York College students.

“It’s really positive and encouraging that the college is engaging with us in this way,” she declared. “It’s a great opportunity to have that conversation about what the curriculum looks like and what we need from the students coming into us, because quite a number do, so we have that vested interest.

“We also discussed the importance of those wider skills that we, as employers, are looking for in terms of knowledge, behaviour and preparation for the workplace. There’s lots that the college already has in place in terms of building rounded individuals for the world of work, but we had quite a large discussion around the transition to a working day and environment, including areas such as team building, team meetings, appraisals and IT skills that meet our expectations as employers, such as a certain level of Microsoft expertise.”

Nicolette Hobson, Training and Development Co-Ordinator at North Yorkshire-based Little Green Rascals Children’s Organic Day Nurseries, spoke of how the Review event might shape the company’s interactions with placement students in the future.

“We’ve had a fantastic, long-standing relationship with York College and its tutors and we have been looking at the mentality of how students approach that move from school to college and college to the workplace and what will motivate them in the workplace because, if they are on a placement, they’re not being paid,” she said. “We had a good discussion about career progression and opening out that pathway, because I think students need to know how they can move forward if they are in a certain setting.”

Morna Lamb, also from Little Green Rascals, added: “The Curriculum Review event was really enlightening because we learned more about the extent of the courses that York College offers and the level that they go up to. To be given the opportunity to look at the curriculum and pick at it has given us food for thought and has been very useful.

“It was interesting to learn what expectations the students coming to us have and what we expect from them and how we can tweak that.”

Dr Noel Dennis, Associate Dean of Teesside University’s International Business School, was also at the Review event, with how effectively our 2030 Curriculum Strategy complements Higher Education provision in this country of vital importance too for those students looking to progress on to degree-level studies.

He applauded the “tremendous” approach College is taking in working with local employers to shape our future curriculum and pointed out: “It’s good to learn more about the curriculum because it can help inform what we also do as a university to support that transition from college in terms of skills that are needed. The college are doing brilliant things and a cracking job in terms of the model and matrix they are putting together.

“I’m really confident that the students coming out of York College will have the requisite skills they need to go into work and could equally transition just as well into university. It’s so important that any educational establishment engages with employers, because how do you know the local needs otherwise?

“It’s good practice to consult with your key stakeholders and industry to help shape together the make-up of future learners and business people. Getting the industry input and eyes will make you stand out and leads to a great reputation, because employers will recognise what you’re doing and always come back to you.

“It’s alright to have a syllabus set by an exam board, but the nuances around that are what employers really value and it’s then about how you can embed them within your offer. Curriculum often lags behind the workplace slightly, particularly in the world of business because it’s such a dynamic discipline in terms of all the tech that’s always developing.

“So, having people who are at the forefront of their industries shaping your curriculum and how you deliver it, is tremendous.”

On his own advisory input, Dr Dennis added: “At our Business School, we are doing a lot of thought leadership on things like AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the role that business can play in helping create a better and more responsible society, so it’s been nice to try and help guide and shape some of the work that’s happening here by imparting some of that thinking, too.”

Would your company welcome the opportunity to help shape our 2030 Curriculum Strategy?

Then, please email our Business Partnerships Team at