Exeter College lifts the trophy for Engagement with Employers at prestigious Beacon Awards

Exeter College has won the much-coveted City & Guilds Award for College Engagement with Employers at the Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Awards, the most prestigious awards in further education.

The AoC Beacon Awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK colleges each year. This award is supported by City & Guilds and seeks to recognise examples of colleges who are responsive to the needs of employers and their region, demonstrate a whole college approach and who demonstrate systematic networking and collaboration with other organisations. 

The College and Great Western Railway (GWR) forged a relationship based on shared values and focus on their customers. The partnership between the College and Great Western Railway which originated in 2017, was ambitious from the outset. Adoption of a commercial mind set by the College and significant investment on both sides has enabled both GWR and College to support each other’s aims and ambitions. There is a shared clear long-term vision, enabling the development of a vibrant learning community of both Apprentices and College staff with a mutual passion for professional development and thirst for knowledge. Shared values of ambition, collaboration and enthusiasm have driven Apprenticeship growth in GWR. 

This Partnership has succeeded in developing exceptional Apprenticeship programmes, not only driving knowledge, skills, and behaviours, but also building confidence, Apprentice voice and giving economic opportunity to a diverse group of learners across a geographically dispersed area. 

Rob Bosworth, Jenny Vince, Mike Blakely and Lucinda Sanders with the Beacon Award

Mike Blakeley, Director of Future Skills, and Apprenticeships at Exeter College, said

“We celebrate the engagement and partnership of over 1050 employers here at Exeter College. They are a vibrant element of our organisation and help us shape our skills offer and support 1000’s of our students with employment and progression opportunities. The Association of Colleges Beacon Award for engagement with employers is hotly contested every year. To be shortlisted was an honour and after an arduous judging visit, we are delighted to have been recognised as the top college in the country for our endeavours.”  

He added, “The focus of our submission was our extensive partnership with GWR. It is a truly unique collaboration that supports hundreds of Apprentices across the rail network. The award recognises the outstanding work of both GWR and Exeter College staff who all work tirelessly to support our Apprentices and I want to thank them all for their outstanding contribution to our learning community and partnership.”

Exeter College Principal and Chief Executive John Laramy CBE, said:

“Our aim is to work with employers, not as provider, but as a true partner which makes a difference to their business.  This National Award, is the highest accolade available in the Further Education Sector, related to working with employers.   

“To have won this prestigious award for our extensive partnership with GWR is a fantastic achievement for the College, our staff, our apprentices and our wider employer partners – I would like to thank and congratulate everyone involved.”

Mark White, Chair of AoC’s Charitable Trust, said:

“The AoC Beacon Awards showcase exactly why colleges are so important to every community and why people value them. This award recognises examples of excellent practical teaching and learning. The work of the winning college shows how important colleges are in providing students with the necessary skills for the real world.”