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  • Only educational establishment in the East of England chosen for prestigious partnership
  • Students and staff to benefit from global skills knowledge

West Suffolk College has partnered with the WorldSkills UK organisation to become a Centre of Excellence – firmly planting it on the global stage for enhancing skills and economic growth.

The scheme is run in partnership with the WorldSkills UK and the Northern Council for Further Education (NCFE), with the aim of transferring world-class expertise and knowledge to participating colleges.

West Suffolk College, based in Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk) is already one of the UK’s leading Further Education colleges and apprenticeship providers - now chosen for the Centre of Excellence scheme out of 55 UK colleges to initially apply.

WorldSkills UK ‘high performance coaches’ will deliver 60 hours of sessions at the College over the next six months, working with staff and students to share their globally acquired knowledge to raise the bar for technical training and teaching standards.

Dr Nikos Savvas, CEO of West Suffolk College and Suffolk Academies Trust, said: “I am immensely proud that the commitment, energy and dedication of our College community has been chosen for this amazing partnership. We are elite and not elitist - actively shaping our communities by offering upskilling and reskilling from technical training to degrees. As a WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence we now have access to global knowledge – giving our students more opportunities to flourish and build the local and global economies of the future by matching high performance skills to jobs.”

Representatives from WorldSkills UK have recently been working with teachers and hundreds of students across a range of disciplines across the college – including art, graphic design, hair and beauty, joinery, mechatronics and media. Their visits can include mock skills competition – known as pressure tests - to help students get ready for future WorldSkills competitions.

Executive Director at West Suffolk College, Gary Jefferson, said: “It’s an exciting opportunity for our students and teachers to work and learn from WorldSkills UK and other nations. As a college, we feel aligned to this ethos of global thinking and consistently exceeding expectations. That’s why this is a perfect partnership for us.”

Brian Tunbridge is a construction lecturer who is one of the five teachers to benefit from WorldSkills UK advice. He said:

“All employers who are working with us already know the outstanding quality of our students. Being a Centre of Excellence reaffirms our reputation with employers beyond our region and helps satisfy our ambitions of working at a global level. The world of work constantly evolves. Four other lecturers from different departments and myself have collectively joined forces to ultimately raise the bar to an international level. This will benefit the students who will gain more from their time with us as we continually look to improve the standards of teaching on all of our courses. We are also looking forward to gaining knowledge from colleagues in other parts of the world.”

Frazer Minskip, a high performance skills coach representing WorldSkills UK, added: “We are incredibly proud to be working with West Suffolk College. This partnership is so important. It’s all about bridging skills gaps and working and with other countries so that our economy can prosper. This will help enable Britain to become a truly global powerhouse. The Centre of Excellence scheme has been a great success, both at West Suffolk College and across the country. The five educators we are supporting have been tremendous and judging by my visit the overall progress that is being made is outstanding.”

19-year-old Dawson Davidson from Mildenhall, Suffolk, is an apprentice joiner who works for Trevor Vaughan in Brandon. He has been involved in one of the WorldSkills UK pressure tests to construct a ladder using traditional joining techniques. Dawson said: “Being involved in this is all about improving your skills, being precise and setting a good example. It gives you the opportunity to showcase your talents. It also makes you want to do your best as you feel like you are representing the college and the company you work for.”