New Chair Takes the Helm of Derby College Employment and Skills Academy

An Associate Director at Derby architectural firm Morrison Design has taken over the helm of Derby College’s Professional Construction Employment & Skills Academy.

Architect Peter Newman will chair an Advisory Board of representatives from ten other local and regional companies specialising in all aspects of professional construction. Collectively, they will feedback their views to Derby College on curriculum design and the industry’s future education training requirements. The employers will also provide a wide range of work placements, visits, projects, mock interviews and specialist lectures for learners and apprentices on the full and part time Professional Construction study programmes.

Mr Newman has taken on the role of Chair from Rebecca Hartshorn, Design and Sustainability Manager at Bowmer & Kirkland who is now Vice Chair of the Advisory Board. Mr Newman, a former student at Wilmorton College – which is now part of Derby College - said: “Many aspects of professional construction suffer from skills shortages so, by raising the profile of the industry amongst young people and supporting them into the workplace, we can tackle this growing issue. “It is vital that employers work closely with education providers to bridge the gap between the skills provided and the reality of what is required in the workplace. “By bringing together professionals from across the industry, we are able to share the broader view on skills requirements and offer the learners a wide range of experience as part of their study programmes. “I started my career as an apprentice fresh out of school in 1997 and am passionate that, as employers, we have a duty to support young people into the workplace – providing them with the employability skills that they need to succeed and that we need to grow our businesses. “Morrison Design has a long relationship with Derby College and have recruited a number of young people in apprenticeship roles here. “We have a number of long standing clients in specialist industries ranging from hotel and leisure to nuclear and science facilities. “These require specialist skills and knowledge and, by recruiting young people at the start of their careers, we can mould and train them at an early age with the skills to be a vital part of the team.”

Sixteen different Employment and Skills Academies at the College range from Engineering to Health and Social Care as well as an Academy designed to support young entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses with mentoring and potentially funding support from local entrepreneurs. Under the Employment and Skills Academies programme, employers join an Advisory Board to shape the curriculum for students in each vocational area.

Employers are invited to be specialist speakers, host visits to their workplace, set projects for students to tackle a particular task, mentor groups of learners, or provide internship and work experience opportunities, amongst other activities which will improve the skills, attitudes and knowledge of students.

Derby College Deputy Principal – Employer and Economic Affairs,  April Hayhurst, added: “Employers consistently tell us that they want young people who are work ready and have the employability skills that will help them to grow their business. “The Employment and Skills Academies are designed to do just that by bringing together employers and their staff together with students to bridge the skills gap and provides young people with a spring board into employment. “The response from employers has so far been fantastic but we are looking for more people to get involved in whatever way they can. “Employers have taken the opportunity to influence education decisions and strategy – ensuring that the work we do is providing the skills they need to increase their competitive edge. “It is also provides networking opportunities with other like-minded business leaders and develops individuals’ teamwork and leadership skills through working with young people. “Students involved in the work placements developed through the Academy programme have shown a keen interest in going the extra mile.  This therefore offers employers an alternative method of recruitment which reduces costs and enhances their talent pool.”

For more information about the Derby College Employment and Skills Academies and how employers can get involved, please contact Derby College, Tel: 0800 028 0289 or visit

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