Chamber Matters: Education and Business
Published 26 Sep 2014Donald MacBeath, Principal of the North Highland College in Thurso and board member of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, talks about the importance of strong links between business and education
One of the most important things I’ve learned over the course of my career at North Highland College is that to be successful, the college has to be about more than just education. For the college to fulfil its purpose, it has to consider and meet the broader needs of the local community.
In particular, this means that we need to work closely with the local business community to ensure that our students are leaving education “work ready” with the skills and attitudes needed by employers in the area.
In the past, we’ve worked closely with local employers during the construction of our Engineering, Technology and Energy Centre, and have helped develop an innovative, employer-led apprenticeship programme.
More recently, we’ve responded to demand from the local construction industry to develop and deliver our Employability Programme in Construction (EPIC), a City & Guilds Level 1 Diploma aimed at enabling successful learners to progress to job opportunities in the industry.
We’ve also worked with the Caithness Business Fund to develop the innovative Jobs Access Programme, a one year programme aimed at providing a route for the unemployed into employment. By helping learners develop a work ethic and, in appropriate cases, giving them work experience with local employers, we can help learners become work ready.
One of my aims as Principal of the college is to ensure that we continue to develop and strengthen these ties with local businesses, whether that’s through developing specific programmes to address industry needs or working with qualifying bodies to ensure that the courses we deliver meet the needs of businesses.
I believe that strong links between the education and business sectors are vital for economic well-being, and I hope to work with the rest of the Chamber board over the coming years to ensure that we are building a strong, successful economy for Caithness.