Case Study: Walsall College

'Like-minded thinking makes the right connections'

Peter Roberts, Assistant Principal, Commercial Development at Walsall College

Walsall College has a very strong profile in international student recruitment and currently works in 14 countries, mainly focussing on the Middle East, China and India. Much of their success in this area has come through their TVET UK trade missions, including work on the Indian government’s CENTUM Learning Project. But, as Peter Roberts, Assistant Principal, Commercial Development at Walsall College, is keen to point out; ‘TVET UK is much more than a match-making service! As well as providing access to key decision makers in developing markets, they also have a real understanding of industry and offer helpful, on-going support. And this has proved invaluable for the establishment of the Black Country Technical College.’

The college is only the second of the proposed 24 university technical colleges to be launched across the UK. These are specialist institutes offering high level academic education with industry sponsored and informed vocational education for students aged 14 – 19. Walsall College is the lead sponsor, University of Wolverhampton is the co-sponsor and there are 19 local and regional employers involved. The college specialises in engineering and product design. Peter is determined that it will be a flagship institution and wanted to offer the added value of a highly respected and influential global brand.

Peter met up with Alan McArthur, Executive Director of TVET UK, to discuss his ambitions for the college. Alan’s understanding of the industry and established relations within the sector meant that he was able to link Peter with the Chief Executive and Engineering Manager of Siemens in Berlin. He visited the organisation’s technical academy in Germany, and hosted a reciprocal visit. The Black Country Technical College now has the input and expertise of a global brand leader in engineering and product design to inform the curriculum and can offer Siemen’s vendor qualifications.

Students will have the amazing opportunity of working all over the world.

Students will have the amazing opportunity of working all over the world. And Siemens, and the world of engineering, now has guaranteed future generations of well educated, highly skilled, work ready recruits. TVET UK also arranged a visit to Austria where HTLs (a similar model to university technical colleges) are now well established, with over 80% of children choosing this educational route. The group had the opportunity to see the model in action, ask questions and seek guidance. Peter found this particularly useful in informing the curriculum.

Peter is delighted with the whole experience; ‘As a single institution, Walsall would not have access to such high level decision makers in the world of industry as Siemens. Alan’s experience meant that he understood what we were looking for and was able to find the right people and speak the ‘right language’. The support provided by TVET UK also went beyond our expectations.’

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