Entrepreneurial focus as college looks to future
GOOD educational qualifications are incredibly important - there’s no dispute about that at Warwickshire College.
But if the latest economic forecasts are to be believed, qualifications alone are no longer enough to guarantee anyone a job for life in the 21st century.
Young people today need to be adaptable, to understand how major corporate companies operate and to perhaps seriously consider developing their own business ideas with skills acquired as part of their college course.
It was after commissioning their own economic forecast that colleges in Gateshead, Nottingham, Norwich, North Herfordshire and Warwickshire banded together to found Gazelle Global Ltd.
This will become the entrepreneurial arm of all further education courses offered in the future, including providing students with “incubator space” for their own ideas and professional mentorship from a wide range of successful business leaders.
Many of these will be local-based businessmen and women. But Gazelle has also recruited the likes of Dragon’s Den celebrities like Peter Jones and Doug Richard.
Warwickshire principal Mariane Cavalli knows that even if her students move on to a career with a national or international company, they will be better able to climb the corporate ladder if they understand how busnesses work.
And if their job does not turn out to be one for life - which is the current trend - then they will have left college with other skills they can adapt to carve out a different future.
Ms Cavalli said: “I am really proud to be a founder-director of Gazelle Global - we have gone on to add a network of over 20 partner colleges across the UK - and our mission is ambitious.
“We are leading a transformation of the further education sector so that it focuses not simply on qualifications but on the needs of the local economy and the skills and mind-set our students possess when they leave college.”
Gazelle will be the business arm of the five core colleges. And at its recent launch at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Ms Cavalli organised a keynote speech from inspirational Emma Jones, author and founder of a small business support company called Enterprise National, as well as StartUp Britain.
Emma told the assembled guests: “With 63 per cent of young people telling us they are looking to start a business on leaving college, the Gazelle group is in the right place at the right time.”
Another speaker was Ben Ramsden, who in 2005 pioneered his quirky Pants to Poverty range of underwear that concentrates on ethical trading and supplies only responsible retailers who pay their staff fair wages.
Warwickshire College’s deputy principal John Rees said: “Analysis of the state of the long-term job market shows that the keys to growth in the future are small and medium enterprises - these are certainly the fastest growing part of the American economy and the same will be true here.
“Our training and education system has to be matched to jobs in the next five, ten, 20 and 30 years. We want high educational qualifications but also to develop a new kind of college that will help our students develop broad capability to sustain employment throughout their lives.”
Built into the timetables of students who enrol on courses next September will be the opportunities to work in partnerships with others, to perhaps exchange skills that can be mutually beneficial, such as web design in exchange for copywriting, or even given the chance to start up their own trading operation whilst still studying.
It wouldn’t be entirely unrealistic for some students to generate enough profits to pay their tuition fees!
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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