Harrogate College column: Exciting new era on the horizon

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We are on the cusp of an exciting new era at Harrogate College, with our new technology centre and refurbishment scheme on course to be complete in time for the start of the new academic year.

New and returning Harrogate College students will be welcomed into a modern, vibrant learning environment and hone their skills in state of the art facilities – what a fantastic way to take the first steps in starting the path to a new career.

An artist's impression of the new faciliies

An artist's impression of the new faciliies

The completion of the campus redevelopment is a key milestone in our drive to re-position the college and to move forwards with our long term college investment and improvement strategy.

We have the ambition and drive to ensure Harrogate College places its marker down as a leading further education institution in the locality and one which is able to continue to attract talented and motivated staff and aspirational students. It is also essential in meeting that aspiration to have the necessary infrastructure to support delivery of training and curriculum for students to leave with relevant technical and professional skills for our fast moving economy.

As a sector and a college we remain absolutely committed to providing our local and regional communities with the skills required. However it is also important to recognise that for any successful economy we need skilled people who can build, maintain and power the homes, restaurants, hotels, offices, public transport and the essential infrastructure we need. Young people are the lifeblood of a prosperous society, and making sure that enough become qualified in, and enter, the worlds of construction, motor vehicle services, welding, plumbing, electrical engineering, carpentry, brickwork, plastering and so on, is absolutely key.

Harrogate College are, and so too are other local training providers, acutely aware of this dynamic and are doing our bit to attract and prepare young learners for these vitally important and rewarding areas of work.

The continuing investment and improvement strategy includes the substantial expansion of our curriculum to provide the best technical skills and training. This will include clear progression pathways which will include higher levels of study such as advanced and higher level apprenticeships which will be strongly underpinned by leadership and management techniques to further support these and other technical trades. We have already made significant strides forward in this respect, not least with the launch of our multi-skilled construction programmes with a wide range of apprenticeships frameworks across each of the specialist construction discipline areas.

This breadth of curriculum equips students with a raft of experiences of practical skills and technical knowledge to make them an attractive employable proposition for construction firms in the region and nationally.

Along with other colleges and training providers, we have also focused on forging close and important industry relationships, and this will continue to gather momentum as the college settles in to its new campus.

A further glimpse down the telescope of the future sees the potential for rolling out the second stage of our ambitious investment programme. As many in the local community will be aware, we have recently consulted on plans for new homes and apartments, potentially for retirement living, for our surplus land next to Hookstone Road. With public funding pots becoming ever more elusive, this scheme will not only provide much needed new high quality starter homes and retirement accommodation, but will unlock enough private finance to invest into, and transform and update the IT infrastructure.

This will make education and training more accessible to rural communities who are clearly challenged when seeking transport options and associated costs of attending their local college.

It will also facilitate the further expansion of the college curriculum; and will include delivery of an all-weather 3G sports pitch for student and community use.

This investment, along with the estate development, will consolidate our position as a college which is a source of pride for the borough and will continue to garner high levels of satisfaction for our students, confirmed through the findings of our recent Ofsted inspection.

The college is on a clear upward trajectory and determined to provide good quality education and training. This is most certainly the case for the hard-working and dedicated college staff who are ready to showcase student talent and make the most of this new era for Harrogate College.