Jobseekers had the chance to find out more about new employment opportunities and gaining work skills when they attended a Careers and Enterprise Day at Westminster Kingsway College.
The event was run with the Central District Alliance (CDA) business improvement district, which is partnering the college’s Mayor of LondonDigital and Hospitality Academy Hubs that launched earlier this year.
The CDA represents more than 400 businesses in central London and has backed the hubs to help its members upskill their staff and recruit new talent in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic.
Mayor of Camden Cllr Nasim Ali was the special guest at the event at the college’s King’s Cross Centre, which was held to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week last month.
CCCG’s apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training and entrepreneurship programme Visionnaires, a subsidiary of CCCG, were also present at the event.
Among the other organisations that attended were Transport for London, Camden Council, Metropolitan Police, London Fire Brigade, DHL, Cutlass Security Group, Bidvest Noonan, London Communications Agency and Digital Influx.
There were also stands from several hospitality and entertainment businesses including Pret, Shaftesbury Theatre, Travelodge, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Imperial London Hotels, Kimpton Fitzroy London and Strand Palace.
Visitors had the opportunity to attend employability sessions with Samsung, LinkedIn and Edwardian Hotels, and have free professional headshots taken for their LinkedIn profiles.
On Monday 26 September, Capital City College Group (CCCG) hosted a breakfast event at the Labour Party Conference in partnership with the London business advocacy group BusinessLDN (previously London First). The event brought together political and business leaders, and education providers, for a discussion on how the levelling-up agenda can tackle the UK’s skills shortages.
CCCG’s Executive Principal Kurt Hintz, and Vice Principal for The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) Robin Hindley, represented the group at the meeting, where we invited MPs, local councillors and council leaders, and business representatives from across the country, to share their experiences and recommendations on how we can help sort the UK’s skills crisis.
Labour Party Conference – what is it? And why were we there?
All the leading political parties in the UK hold an annual conference, bringing together party members, politicians and businesses alike to discuss party priorities, policy positions and other important topics. They are an excellent opportunity for organisations like CCCG to raise awareness of important issues, influence politicians with our key policy ‘asks’, and connect with industry colleagues and develop new sector relationships.
This year Labour returned to Liverpool, with a packed timetable of events, meetings and speeches, from Sunday 25 to Wednesday 28 September 2022. We held our breakfast event on Monday 25 September, during the first ‘Business’ day of the conference, at the historic Albert Dock.
John Dickie, BusinessLDN’s Chief Executive, chaired the event. BusinessLDN work with businesses across the capital and have recently won the bid to run Greater London’s Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) which will collaborate with employers, training and education providers, and local stakeholders to tackle London’s skills shortages. We will be playing a key role in the LSIP’s work.
Kurt Hintz led the discussion and explained the importance of further education to levelling up and skills. He highlighted three key priorities to give further education colleges the best opportunity to deliver the highest quality skills training for their students:
Providing free courses for adults at Level 4 and 5;
Devolving the adult education and skills budget; and
Increasing the flexibility of the Apprenticeship Levy.
Firstly, cost is a huge barrier to adults in taking on education. Many earn less than the London living wage, so they have no spare money to spend on gaining qualifications. But as Kurt explained during the discussion, when we removed this barrier and offered free qualifications up to Level 3 for adults in 2014, we saw an increase of 30% in the number of adult learners the following year and each year after that.
We’re pleased that Government funding for adult courses up to level 3 has caught up with our idea, and these courses are now free to most people, but we would like the Government to go further and enable adults who want to study for Level 4 and 5 skills-based qualifications – including professional qualifications like those offered by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) – to have their education free as well. Doing this will enable many more adults to up-skill, which can only be a good thing for people and for the wider economy.
Secondly, devolving the adult skills budget (currently only London and the mayoral combined authorities, including West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Liverpool, enjoy this freedom) will give local areas more freedom in how they prioritise their skills spending. For example, the flexibility given to CCCG by the Greater London Authority (GLA) on some of our adult skills budget has been key to providing our students with the highest quality training, based on demand and industry need. This sort of working relationship is good practice for other parts of the country.
And thirdly, Kurt spoke about the worrying drop in apprenticeship starts since the COVID-19 pandemic, identifying Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as struggling the most to take on apprentices. He recommended increasing the flexibility of the apprenticeship levy by allowing unspent levy money to cover the cost of wages for employees during the first year of apprenticeships.
Other guests offered interesting contributions to the discussions. Richard Bonner, Northern Cities Executive at Arcadis, spoke on the huge deficit in skills in the construction industry, and the mismatch between industry requirements and what training colleges are providing. CCCG consider links with employers as critical to offering our students the best possible provision in their industry.
One example is CONEL’s partnership Ardmore Construction – one of the largest family-owned construction groups in the UK – to develop the London Welding Academy. CONEL worked with Ardmore to develop a Welding Level 3 Apprenticeship training programme at the college to help fill the skills gap exacerbated by COVID-19 and Brexit. CONEL created space for the programme and Ardmore provided the high-quality welding equipment.
Henri Murison, CEO of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP), emphasised the need to spend money on skills more efficiently and effectively before throwing more money at a system which is already failing to deliver; Josie Cluer, Partner at EY, called attention to the need to fix the skills shortage before we can level up, as people are lacking the skills required to fill current vacancies.
In addition, the Mayor of Newham, Rokshana Fiaz, highlighted that even in London – which in levelling-up terms is economically thriving – there are huge pockets of crippling poverty and inequality.
The need for levelling-up within London is something our Chief Executive Roy O’Shaughnessy, commented on back in February, when the Government released their long awaited Levelling-Up White Paper. London as a region has the highest poverty rates compared to any other region in the UK, with 27% of all residents living in poverty – at CCCG around 67% of our students are in the bottom three bands of social deprivation – this is why tackling the skills shortage and levelling-up our communities is central to the training and education we deliver.
On to the next Party Conference …
With the Labour Party Conference wrapping up today, we turn our attention to Birmingham where we will be heading next week for the Conservative Party Conference. There we will host a whole new set of guests to continue our discussions on Levelling-Up and skills.
The ceremony was compèred by Kamal Ellis-Hyman, Founder and Director of Aim A Little Higher, which runs personal development programmes for young people across the UK.
Alastair Da Costa, Chair of CCCG, welcomed the award winners and their families and presented the awards along with Jasbir Sondhi, Vice Principal of WestKing, and David Dangana, Director of Group Quality and Compliance.
He said: “Excellence is hard work realised. It takes dedication, perseverance, overcoming frustrations and doubts. Realising excellence requires support from friends and family, it requires picking up when you are down, and it is right to celebrate achievement and success with friends and loved ones.
“This evening, I want to thank you all for being excellent, whether you win an award, are supporting those who win an award or whether you have taught and helped those in this room to realise their potential.”
Awards were presented to students from across CCCG’s provision including many who had achieved success at college and overcome major challenges during their studies.
Among the award winners was Vivek Quissor who gained a triple-starred Distinction in his Public Services diploma at CANDI and was praised for the quality of his well-researched assignments and being an inspiration to other students.
Vivek, 18, who is now studying for a BA (Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Greenwich, said: “My lecturers provided an outstanding level of teaching throughout the length of my course. I credit my success to them. They left no stone unturned when it came to making sure that assignment work was completed to the highest of standards.”
Also picking up an award was Mariana Ghertan who completed her Healthcare Support Worker apprenticeship with CCCT despite catching COVID twice and suffering family bereavement.
Mariana, 36, said: “My tutor was the most incredible support. She encouraged me not to give up and offered me more time. I spoke to my husband and sons who had seen how much hard work I had put in. They said that my mum was proud of me and would have wanted me to finish, so I did.”
Tyler Minter, 24, wanted to start a Rail Engineering apprenticeship with Alstom and CONEL after learning he was to become a dad. He was described by his tutors as “an exceptional student” who produces a high standard of work and is a perfect role model to his peers.
He said: “I love the fact that I’m learning while also getting hands on experience. I’m gaining knowledge that is vital to the job and putting it to use in a practical sense. I’m also not getting into debt like a lot of people who go to university do, and I’m earning a good salary.”
The final award of the night was the CCCG Inspiration Award, which was presented to CANDI Art and Design diploma student Georgiana Guias, who was praised by her teachers for her dedication, intelligence and enthusiasm, as well as her support for her peers.
Georgiana, 18, who is now studying a BA (Hons) Architecture at Central Saint Martins, said: “It’s a big surprise to get this award because everybody on the course worked hard. The course was challenging but I got to learn new skills and techniques and the teachers were friendly and supportive of me and other students.”
The ceremony also featured live performances by Music Performance and Production students from CANDI and WestKing.
CANDI students Beth Cook, 18, Gloria Elubode, 17, and Ralph Heywood, 17, performed their own composition entitled Faith and Strength is the Key.
WestKing students Gabi Reece, 18, and Isabelle Linehan, 17, together known as The Park, performed their own work called She’ll Stay.
Hospitality and Culinary Arts students from WestKing served canapés at the event with front of house service run by WestKing’s Travel and Tourism students and CONEL’s Public Service students.
Roy O’Shaughnessy, CEO of CCCG, described the evening as “absolutely incredible and inspiring” as he congratulated the award winners, staff, sponsors and organisers of the event.
He said: “I want to congratulate our staff, students, their families and friends and thank them for making this evening such a wonderful success. It is such a privilege to look around this room and see students, teachers and staff from across the Group, sitting here today and celebrating the hard, hard work of those that we’ve honoured, so really, truly well done.
“We wouldn’t have been here without our sponsors, and I would like to thank them on behalf of our staff, students, staff and governors. Your work means that at CCCG we not only can offer courses and programmes, but we are able to work with employers to give opportunities for our students to create the future for London.”
Find out more about our wide range of courses and apprenticeships here.
Westminster Kingsway College’s hospitality students have been shaking things up behind the bar at the world-famous Waldorf Hilton hotel, with a series of cocktail masterclasses.
Twelve aspiring mixologists from the college’s Victoria Centre have been honing their bar skills at weekly training sessions at the luxury five-star hotel on London’s Aldwych.
Under the instruction of bar manager Massimiliano Terrile and his team they have learnt about various spirits and how to use these as a base for making different cocktails.
The students have also been trained in the correct use of professional bar equipment and discovered more about the history and tradition of many classic drinks.
Matthew Deller, 18, said: “I had no idea about any cocktails before I came here, but now I know about the different botanicals in gin, how vodka suits sharp flavours, the best way to mash and grind the mint for mojitos and how to make daquiris and negronis. It’s amazing to go to a college that’s so well connected and can give you these kinds of opportunities.”
Mia Lambert, 17, added: “I’ve learnt a lot about the history and science of different drinks and the methods of making different cocktails. We’ve not only been exposed to the bar side but been able to work at events as well. I feel so lucky and privileged. Not many people my age can say they’ve been able to have this experience.”
Jessica Grady, 17, said: “We’ve been given so many amazing opportunities on our course – meeting lots of famous chefs, experiencing fine dining and visiting hotels and events companies. The teachers are amazing. They know the way we work, and we can talk to them about anything. We get so much support.”
Each of the participating students will be presented with the Hilton Bar Qualification when they complete their training in April.
Bartender Silvia Dias, who has been helping with the training, said: “The students came in ready and excited to learn about new things and were open to everything. Some of what they learnt can be quite technical, but they didn’t put up any barriers and acquired a lot of knowledge very quickly. They were very interested and engaged and have bright futures ahead of them.”
WestKing’s Hospitality and Events Diploma, and Food and Beverage Service Diploma courses cover food and gastronomy, restaurant service, events, customer service, human resources, finance, marketing and business. These courses are the ideal preparation for anyone who wants a career in the hospitality, events, hotel or restaurant sectors.
Lindsey Lamont, Lecturer in Hospitality, commented: “This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to receive professional drinks and cocktail masterclasses at one of London’s most prestigious hotels. It has helped them with their studies and developed their wider skills and knowledge with an unforgettable experience learning from the best in the business.”
WestKing always ensures parental permission is given for students under 18 to undertake training involving alcohol.