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65. A review of The Sheffield College’s contribution to meeting national and local skills needs

Kada Research were commissioned by The Sheffield College (TSC) to review the contribution to meeting skills needs. The purpose of the review was two-fold. Firstly, it was to assist the college’s Governing Body in fulfilling a new statutory duty introduced by the Department for Education (DfE) to review how well education and training provided by FE and sixth form colleges meets local skills needs. Secondly, it was to help inform the college’s first Accountability Statement for DfE, for which the scope of the study was expanded to include consideration of National Skills Priorities.

As a South Yorkshire anchor institution TSC is the sub-region’s largest provider of 16-19, adult and apprenticeship programmes. With nearly 13,000 students enrolled, TSC delivers basic skills through to higher level provision, including technical options such as T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs). TSC is South Yorkshire’s largest apprenticeship provider by market share offering apprenticeships aligned with key employment sectors identified in the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) Strategic Economic Plan.

The study involved a comprehensive desk review alongside consultations with local strategic skills and economic leads, employers, and employer representative bodies to identify Sheffield and South Yorkshire skills needs. A systematic assessment was then completed to evaluate the extent to which TSC’s education and training provision addresses each of these needs. The review considered what provision was already in place, learner progression opportunities, collaborative arrangements (including with employers), and future plans for curriculum and capital development.

The review concluded that TSC’s strategic positioning within Sheffield and South Yorkshire means it is well-placed to respond to local and national skills priorities. Plans for curriculum development and growth directly address identified skills needs and the college’s extensive collaboration with employers and other organisations is helping to address technical and cross-sector needs, including via the college’s sector-leading Employer Skills Academy model. The findings also illustrated TSC’s important role in addressing community based and adult learning needs to support local priorities associated with economic inclusion.

If you are thinking about commissioning a review of your education and training provision to explore alignment with local skills priorities, or you are interested in research into local and national skills needs, including those articulated in Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs), you can contact us at Laura@kadaresarch.co.uk

Kada comment (Dr Laura Lane, Study Director): This review was an important piece of work for TSC. It enabled the college’s governing body to complete its new statutory duty while also providing clarity about local skills needs setting out a baseline for future reviews and helping to inform curriculum planning decisions.

Andrew Hartley, Deputy Chief Executive, The Sheffield College, said: “Ensuring that the college is well positioned to respond to the skills needs of employers in the city and beyond is vital. It is a priority for governors and leaders, who commissioned the independent review.

“Kada Research has provided valuable insights that will strengthen our curriculum offer and, ultimately, our positive impact on the city and local economy, ensuring our students get the skills and qualifications to go further in their careers.”