The City of Liverpool CollegeAnnie Williams, Author at The City of Liverpool College
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The Next Generation event with Downtown in Business

The City of Liverpool College played host to The Next Generation event on Tuesday June 28th, held in collaboration with Downtown in Business Liverpool.

Hosted at our very own The Academy Restaurant, employers from across the North West joined us for an evening of insightful discussion regarding how industry can get involved with the College’s progressive apprenticeship programme to work towards closing the region’s skills gaps and creating a greener future.

Speaking at the event was Tom Higgins, Director at Laing O’Rourke, Rachael Patterson, Policy and Marketing Manager at Knowledge Quarter Liverpool, and the College’s Peter Sandman, who recently joined us as Commercial Director.

Throughout the evening, guest speakers shared their insight into the benefit of employing young apprentices and offered advice on how employers can effectively collaborate with educators to bridge the growing skills gaps and eradicate the negative perception of apprenticeships, particularly within the construction industry.

Beginning the evening’s conversation was Peter Sandman. Appointed to the College in June, Peter’s role focuses on enhancing business relationships, gaining insight into the needs of industry which can then be applied to curriculum, and creating a direct connection between learners and the business community.

Peter said: “As a college, we’re eager to build on our relationships with employers across the Liverpool City Region and improve our training and qualifications offer so that we can work towards filling the skills gaps and meeting the needs of the city region.

“It’s also great to have the opportunity to showcase The Academy Restaurant, which is just one of the many commercial offerings the College has to present. I’m looking forward to working closely with businesses across the region and showing what the College has to offer.”

Construction company Laing O’Rourke are passionate advocates of apprenticeships. The firm currently employ 26 apprentices and have a further 30 joining in September.

Talking about the negative opinions that surround apprenticeships and the industry, Tom Higgins said: “Construction still has a bad reputation among young people and even parents. It’s seen as dirty, tough and rough. It used to be, but it’s the 21st century.

“We have architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and so many other roles – all that can be achieved through apprenticeships. As an industry, we need to work towards destroying the perception of construction and showing the different opportunities the sector has to offer.”

Knowledge Quarter’s Rachael Patterson shared Tom’s view, echoing that work needs to be done to change the public’s misconceptions of the construction industry and make its various roles more known among young people.

Rachael touched on how it is important to be providing young people in schools with a relatable narrative, one they can look at that doesn’t seem too distant from where they currently are. She said: “We need to look at how we can inspire the next generation to join the sector. You’ve got a generation coming through that are led by visual content, social media, and influencers. When they see the construction industry – all they see is the TV shows featuring old men knocking down houses.

“We need to be putting young professionals in the industry in front of the next generation and making it relatable. Showing them that this could be them in three – four years’ time. Not 10 years from now. Not 20 or 30 years, but in the next five.”

The event was bought to a close with a fantastic two-course meal prepared by the College’s talented Academy Restaurant team, who were on hand to provide high-quality service throughout the night.

To find out more about The City of Liverpool College’s apprenticeship offering, please visit here.