A new ‘super college’ serving Sussex is set to fill the skills gap in the labour market ahead of Brexit.
That is the hope of Nick Juba, the chief executive of the newly-formed Greater Brighton Metropolitan College – or ‘The MET’ – the result of a merger between City College Brighton & Hove and Northbrook College last week.
The college has five campuses – two in Brighton, two in Worthing and one in Shoreham – and its focus will be on vocational education, apprentices, and skills-based training.
Mr Juba said his vision is that the college will form ‘the engine room’ of the local economy, helping young people enter thriving industries, and giving employers access to the best and brightest talent.
Teaching 14,000 students, the new college commissioned a report on labour market growth, skills shortages and opportunities for young people in Sussex and beyond – and hopes to use this to shape the future of the college.
Mr Juba said: “For the first time in many years a much needed emphasis is being placed on professional and technical education – whether through apprenticeships or college-based study. The demands of our labour market are changing and, therefore, so too are the skills and qualifications employers are looking for.”
The ‘METfutures’ research report found that jobs in construction, catering, digital, finance and engineering are among the UK’s top occupations for hard-to-fill vacancies due to skill shortages.
Julie Nerney, chair of the MET College board of governors, said addressing that skills shortage is more important than ever.
She said: “The Government is in the process of negotiating a deal to leave the European Union and it remains unclear what impact this might have on the supply of labour to many of our industries including construction, health and tourism.
“In this time of change we need to think carefully about the knowledge, skills and understanding that the people of our region need to succeed and to thrive.”
The college is also working with local employers to get students on-the-job training through apprenticeships.
But Mr Juba said in many ways it will be business as usual, and explained the merger as ‘taking the best elements from two colleges’ under one ‘strategic vision’.
He said many students will continue to access their local college campus, and added: “Students don’t want to travel to learn. People want to access their local college. It is accessible and I do not see that changing.”
Facts & figures
The new Met College teaches 4,000 16 to 18-year-olds, 1,000 undergraduates, 7,500 adult learners and 800 apprentices across Brighton and Hove and West Sussex. Its courses range from arts, design, music and catering to engineering, construction and aircraft maintenance. Its campuses are in Brighton city centre, East Brighton, West Durrington, Shoreham Airport and Broadwater.
In September, the East Brighton campus will include a new £9million construction centre, a training hub for construction workers and trades professionals.