Devon Colleges Launch Partnership to Boost Skills and Economic Growth

20 October 2016 | College News

Devon Colleges Group

Devon’s four principal further and higher education colleges are today (Thursday, October 20) formally launching a unique collaboration that will benefit learners and employers across the county.

City College Plymouth, Exeter College, Petroc and South Devon College are setting up the Devon Colleges Group, a partnership with a shared vision focussed on enhancing skills, raising aspirations and driving regional economic growth and productivity.

All rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, the colleges already have a successful history of working together. They employ some 3,000 professional staff to deliver high quality, responsive and efficient education and training to more than 50,000 students each year, from young people aged 14-19 to adults. Courses range from entry to degree and higher level, and learners include the most able as well as some of the most disadvantaged, those in the workplace and others studying on college campuses.

The colleges support more than 5,000 apprentices each year and offer university-level education to more than 3,200 students.

Phil Davies, Principal, City College Plymouth, says: “As an organisation devoted to transforming lives in Plymouth, we also recognise our wider regional role in driving economic growth.

“That’s why we are fully committed to the collective and strong collaborative working that the Devon Colleges Group will provide.

“Together we can use our experience and expertise to achieve a significant long-term regional impact, by increasing and improving education and skills, helping to create a high wage economy and promoting higher level opportunities to raise the bar for all.”

John Laramy, Principal and Chief Executive of Exeter College, said: “As Principal of Exeter College, an outstanding, dynamic and thriving college, our mission is to provide exceptional opportunities for our learners, employers and partners.

“We strive for excellence in all that we do, and our very broad range of courses and programmes means that our learners can choose the area of study or an apprenticeship that best suits their needs, interests and abilities.

“We welcome this opportunity to be able celebrate the uniqueness of each college as well as our distinctive and broad offers, and at the same time work together in collaboration with our neighbouring colleges to add value to Exeter, Devon and the wider region.”

Diane Dimond, Principal at Petroc, says:“At Petroc, we understand the importance of collaborative working. As part of the group, we can share our expertise and knowledge to maximise our impact in the region and improve our training and education offer to give our learners more choice than ever before.

“We have a long and successful history of working collaboratively with all the other leading education providers in the group and we are excited about the new partnership and the positive impact it will have in the area. We believe that the effective collaboration of the colleges in Devon is key to delivering the skills our regional economy needs, both now and for the future.

“Petroc is a good college with outstanding features, and is financially sound. In our very rural area, which has its connectivity challenges, we are proud to be able to provide wide-ranging, high-quality education, skills, training and professional programmes, for businesses and individuals, at a variety of locations and through flexible delivery options.”

Stephen Criddle, Principal and CEO, South Devon College, says: “At South Devon College we have a passion for learning and, as an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ college, we pride ourselves on delivering excellent programmes of study and other opportunities.

“The new Devon Colleges Group will provide a co-ordinated approach and greater focus on identifying good practice areas of strength and specialism, without diminishing the key local offer of each college.

“Our commitment to exceptional, free and impartial advice and guidance will be further enhanced by this collaboration as it will promote wider post-16 opportunities and ensure that learners, parents and employers understand more fully the breadth and depth of the offer across the county.”

The Devon Colleges Group has pledged to analyse effectively the skills needs and gaps in the region and respond quickly to emerging trends in order to deliver Devon’s growth ambitions within a prompt timescale.

Collectively they will continue to serve their local communities by providing high quality and relevant education and training, while combining their efforts to enable the delivery of training that may otherwise not be viable.

Looking to the future, the group will work closely with local authorities and stakeholders to ensure that Devon has the right mix and balance of provision, including the staff expertise, curriculum and infrastructure capacity to deliver on local, regional and national agendas.

Chris Garcia, Chief Executive of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, says: “We welcome the commitment being made today by the Devon Colleges Group to support the Heart of the South West economy. Improving skills and working with employers are key parts of helping to create a more productive and inclusive economy and we look forward to continuing to work with all our colleges and training agencies to achieve this aim.”

Photo (l-r): Phil Davies (Principal, City College Plymouth), Stephen Criddle (Principal and CEO, South Devon College), Diane Dimond (Principal, Petroc), John Laramy (Principal and Chief Executive, Exeter College.)

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