Home / News / Pioneering work with industry boosts students’ employability skills and brings national accolade for Burnley College
Burnley COllege Beacon Award finalist

Pioneering work with industry boosts students’ employability skills and brings national accolade for Burnley College

Burnley College has earned a place in the finals of the Association of Colleges’ prestigious national Beacon Awards for its innovative work with leading employers to transform the curriculum for students and Apprentices and help boost the region’s economy.

pioneering work carried out in the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence –which now influences teaching and learning across every area of College life – in a day of intense online scrutiny by a panel of industry-expert judges.

The College’s long-established and constantly evolving work with employers has seen it reach the finals of the City and Guilds-sponsored Employer Engagement category of the awards which highlight best practice. In the finals Burnley College is flying the flag for the North of England against Colleges from Devon and Somerset.

The College’s impressive entry was based on the impact of the North West Engineering Advisory Board on developing the curriculum within Burnley College to ensure it meets both the needs of employers seeking a skilled and highly-motivated workforce as well as students and Themis at Burnley College Apprentices keen to stand out from the crowd.

Burnley College Assistant Principal Neil Burrows, who is leading the College’s award entry, said:

“We are extremely proud to be recognised in the top three Colleges in the country for our work with employers to benefit our students and Themis Apprentices and share our expertise and innovation with the business community.

“As the Number 1 College in England in the Government’s latest achievement tables for students aged 16 to 18, we have long recognised that success cannot solely be measured by exam results. We are committed to ensuring that every student or Themis Apprentice at Burnley College – regardless of their subject area or achievement level – is equipped with the skills, knowledge and attributes which will help them to stand head and shoulders above the rest when applying for a career opportunity or a place at university.

“We talk to leading employers about what specialist, industry skills they are seeking but also about what personal qualities they look for in their very best recruits and tailor College-wide activities, such as student development days and careers week, to support students and Apprentices alike in nurturing these attributes.


Creating young people who are passionate about their subjects and future careers, who can talk with confidence about the role they will play in industry or their chosen sector, is embedded at the very heart of everything we do.”

Neil Burrows

Assistant Principal, Burnley College

The College’s award entry outlined how discussions within the Engineering Advisory Board had transformed the delivery of engineering courses and training and led to:

  • The engineering curriculum and training delivered focussing on skills rather than theory
  • The number of engineering courses offered increase
  • The number of Apprentices rise from 100 to 520 and the number of students and Apprentices progressing to university-level qualifications tripling
  • The College being named North West Aerospace Alliance New Talent Training Provider of the year for two consecutive years
  • The development of a pioneering Pre-Apprenticeship programme to ensure talented and committed potential Themis Apprentices had the opportunity to start their training – in diverse industries and sectors – without having secured an employer due to the impact of Covid-19

In its entry, the College highlighted how its £4 million investment in its expanding Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, the College had led to the recruitment of industry-expert Tutors and Trainers, with years of experience in their chosen specialisms, and creation of additional industry-standard workshops fitted with the latest equipment and technology used in industry.

Neil Burrows added:

“Through our investment in staff, time and resources, the Engineering Advisory Group is already a beacon for others across the United Kingdom to follow. Linking the education and training sector with the needs of employers has never been more important and we are immensely proud to be recognised as one of the country’s top Colleges in doing just that.

“While the Engineering sector was the birthplace of this pioneering work, its impact is now being felt in every area of College life and is at the heart of the College’s continuing success in inspiring students and Apprentices alike to be the leaders of tomorrow and the individuals who will change their chosen industries“

Are you a potential student or Themis Apprentice who wants to be ‘work ready’ with the skills, knowledge and behaviour that will make you stand out from the crowd?  Find out more about the outstanding A Level courses, Vocational programmes, new T Level options and industry-leading Themis Apprentices we offer by visiting www.burnley.ac.uk. We are still accepting applications to start studying or training in September 2021 and interviews are continuing remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic. Talk to us now on 01282 733373 or email [email protected] to discover how you can take your place at the Number 1 College in England.