Bath Spa University has teamed up with Norton Radstock College to help rural businesses identify the skills they need from potential employees.
The project is part of an EU initiative to ensure education providers effectively equip their students with the necessary skills for future employment.
The Connect-VET initiative aims to improve the quality of training in vocational education and training (VET) and strengthen links between VET, higher education institutions and businesses.
Bath Spa University recently hosted a Connect-VET workshop and welcomed speakers from partner training providers in Estonia, Norway, Italy, Spain and Finland who reported back on similar projects in their regions.
Representatives from Norton Radstock College and the University were joined by local entrepreneurs and business leaders and heard a number of presentations including ones by Chris Head from the West of England Rural Network and Local Enterprise Partnership, David Bland from Wansdyke Telecom and Bath Spa alumna Rosanna Mead, Director of Dorset-based business Musica which currently employs nine Bath Spa graduates.
Discussions focused on how the two education providers can help West Country business owners and the different ways students can obtain the experience they need, including work placements, apprenticeships and e-learning.
The event also looked at how academic research can be used to benefit businesses in a practical way.
Susan Cherrett, Enterprise and Employer Liaison Manager at Bath Spa University, said: “Being involved in a project with international partners and sharing best practice about employer engagement will give us fresh ideas for working with businesses.
“It will potentially also open doors for our students who aspire to be global citizens working within a global economy.”
Rosaleen Courtney, Project Manager at Norton Radstock College, added: “This meeting was an important step forward in our work to develop the rural economy, as it will establish what skills these businesses need in the future and how Norton Radstock College and Bath Spa University can develop the curriculum to ensure our students can meet this need.
“By working together we can help today’s entrepreneurs plan ahead and grow while also helping our students gain the vital skills they need to put them ahead in the jobs market and inspiring them to use their knowledge and experience to launch ventures of their own in the future.
“It was fascinating to hear from our partner vocational education providers from the continent about the projects they are leading with local businesses and to learn from their experiences.”