Closing the Skills Gap: Pilot Update 1

The Design & Technology Association’s Skills Gap Programme pilot, launched last month, has taken further steps forward in November with the first employer-teacher training workshop taking place at Alucast. Cheryl Phillips, Skills Gap programme director gives an update.

This first teacher training session took place at Alucast in Wednesbury this week.  Five teachers from ACE Academy, Tipton, attended the session, bringing the business and school together to establish better mutual understanding of today’s engineering skills requirements and how they can be addressed in design and technology (D&T) classes.

The Skills Gap programme, which links schools with an industry partner, is designed to develop the knowledge and skills of D&T teachers and help them contextualise their curriculum requirements.

It provides a structured programme of training, coaching and assessment to enhance technical and soft skills; encourage creativity and innovation; provide insights into career pathways and develop business-linked teaching materials.

The programme also helps employers engage with teachers and young people to promote opportunities in their business and address their skills gaps while improving their understanding of curriculum requirements.

Preparatory work has now been carried out with all three schools in the pilot programme, to identify the specific skills and knowledge each wants to gain through their unique business relationships. The initial training workshop, which Alucast and ACE Academy are the first to complete then provides a full briefing on the Skills Gap Programme plus a practical insight into the partner industry.

During their workshop, ACE Academy, received a guided tour of Alucast’s foundries, enabling teachers to consider how they could use the company’s expertise in developing a relevant project with their pupils.

The workshop inspired teachers to consider a range of potential projects. Glenn Bates, head of DT Department at ACE Academy commented:  “The session was positive and productive.  It was great to hear lots of ideas coming from everyone.  We’re looking forward to firming these up and moving on to the next stage where we get the pupils involved.”

Teachers will continue to receive project development support from the Skills Gap team with technical input from designated key employee volunteers in their partner business.

As part of the programme, these employee volunteers receive training, including an overview of the D&T curriculum in schools and an understanding of how to coach teachers to form and shape a project appropriate for the school and industry.

Tony Sartorius, managing director of Alucast is pleased his workforce is involved.  “We at Alucast want to invest in the skills of young people to ensure we feed the talent pipeline for our future and the future of the local community.  We are very much looking forward to further developing our relationship with the ACE Academy.’

Employee training has now taken place at Alucast and Renishaw. The third and final organisation in the Skills Gap pilot scheme, Airbus, will shortly complete its inaugural workshop as well. The pilot scheme will be completed in the Spring of 2014.

For further information about the programme or to register your interest in the scheme, please contact Cheryl Phillips, Skills Gap Programme Director for the D&T Association on [email protected] or 07903502768.