Senior civil servant David Russell brought himself up to date with the industry ready skills offered by land based colleges during a fact finding tour of Reaseheath College last week.
Mr Russell, who is Director of ‘Closing the Gap’ within the Department for Education, chose to visit the Nantwich, Cheshire, college because of its outstanding reputation for skills development and engagement with industry.
He toured the college’s £7.3million industry standard food centre and its commercial farm, which includes a cutting edge dairy parlour and welfare friendly commercial pig unit. During his visit, Mr Russell took the chance to join students being introduced to groundbreaking technology such as how to programme and drive tractors fitted with Global Positioning Systems (GPS), a space-based satellite navigation system.
He also toured the college’s new agricultural engineering academy and motor vehicle workshops and inspected a state- of- the- art food engineering centre which has just been completed. The £3.6m project, developed in partnership with the National Skills Academy for Food, uniquely combines training in engineering, food manufacturing and farming and is aimed at engineers who service and maintain large scale milk processing plants in factories across the country.
Reaseheath is attracting a growing number of national and regional clients who are benefitting their businesses through tailormade training for their staff. They are also employing graduates because they have the specific qualifications and practical skills they require. The growth has been particularly significant in the farming and food production industries, and in engineering, motor vehicle and land management.
Mr Russell said: “My visit was truly inspiring. I was impressed with everything I saw : the industry-standard facilities, the engagement of the students, the enthusiasm of the staff and the vision and energy of Reaseheath’s Principal and team.
“Above all, it was extremely encouraging and inspiring to see a college which is delivering the Government’s vision for the sector. Reaseheath is not only responsive to the needs of industry but is totally in partnership at all levels, from course design through teaching partnerships to the layout of facilities.
“It shows what can be done by an institution focussed on excellence and completely orientated towards successful employment outcomes and the skills needs of industry. And as if that wasn’t enough, I got to drive a tractor too……”
Reaseheath Principal Meredydd David commented: “We were delighted to accommodate David Russell and took the opportunity to show him how we prepare our students for successful careers in industry and the exciting prospects awaiting them.”