Kim Johnson, MP for Liverpool Riverside, visited The City of Liverpool College to view first-hand its state-of-the-art facilities and discuss the critical role that the College plays in the Liverpool City Region.
Attending the Vauxhall Road campus on Thursday (January 5), Kim met with the College’s Student Union President El-Dana Ahmed, Vice President Zahraa Khalid and staff to find out more about how the Further Education provider is equipping young people with the skills and experience to thrive when entering the workforce.
Since summer 2020, the College has invested over £2m on its Vauxhall facilities to ensure students have access to industry-standard equipment and has worked in partnership with leading employers across the region and beyond to develop its curriculum with the aim to increase student’s chances of success post-study.
Ms Johnson was shown around many of the campus’ industry-praised workshops, including its Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump (RACHP) Engineering classrooms, and its recently refurbished Heating and Hot Water workshops.
Talking to students and staff, Ms Johnson was clear on the importance of technical education to the city region’s economy, and the crucial role it can play in tackling poverty and deprivation. She also met with several learners who are enrolled onto courses and apprenticeships in the construction, engineering and green tech sectors, many of which have already secured positions for post-study and work experience due to the College’s links with local business.
During the visit, the Labour MP spoke with El-Dana and Zahraa about how the College is supporting its community through times of hardship, the main issues students are encountering as the country continues to struggle through the cost-of-living crisis, and the government’s plans to abolish many vocational courses by 2024.
The Students’ Union representatives discussed the increased usage of the free ‘hygiene banks’, which were introduced last year funded solely by the Student Union’s fund as a response to the growing cost of essential toiletries. The President and VP also spoke with Ms Johnson about the growing concerns, amidst government plans for educational reform, around course offerings and access to vocational courses, particularly for students entering the College without GCSEs.
Last year it was announced that many technical qualifications would have government funding withdrawn to pave the way for T Levels, the new technical equivalent to A Levels which combine classroom learning with industry work placements.
Whilst colleges such as COLC have welcomed T Levels as a valuable addition to the range of further education pathways on offer to young people, many educators have expressed concern at the gap that would be left should all other vocational qualifications, such as the hugely popular BTECs and NVQs, be removed without first ensuring T Level equivalents across all subject areas.
At a time when educating the region’s future workforce is arguably more Important than ever, COLC and Ms Johnson are among many who feel strongly that the value of technical, vocational and professional courses cannot be underestimated.
Turning disadvantage to advantage and providing equal opportunities for all to succeed forms one of the COLC’s primary strategic missions. The educator is putting substantial weight behind supporting its students to enhance their opportunities. Working with Ms Johnson, the College is eager to continue addressing the issues impacting the LCR and advocating for positive change not only for students, but the people of the communities it serves.
Kim Johnson, MP for Liverpool, Riverside, said:
“It was lovely to visit The City of Liverpool College’s Vauxhall site this month. During my visit, I had wonderful discussions with the President and Vice President for the College’s Student Union, as well toured the excellent facilities of the campus.
“It was brilliant to see a growing female presence in the form of both staff and students across the College’s engineering, joinery and car mechanic subjects.
“I look forward to working with the College in the future and finding ways we can support and enhance the lives of our region’s people, together.”
El-Dana Ahmed, Student Union President at The City of Liverpool College, said:
“I was delighted to be given the opportunity to sit down with Kim Johnson during her visit and discuss the role of our Student Union and ways we can work together to enhance learner’s experience.
“It was insightful to learn Ms Johnson shared the view of thousands of students with regard to the government’s plan to cut many vocational courses and is currently campaigning against this motion – something we are also doing at the College.
“Events like this are the reason I am proud to be leading our College’s Student Union; where we can sit down with local representatives and talk about how we can action change together, working towards a fairer and united region and education system.”
Elaine Bowker, Principal at The City of Liverpool College, said:
“It was a pleasure to welcome Kim Johnson to The City of Liverpool College and showcase our fantastic facilities, as well as the range of vocational courses we deliver to learners. The various pathways we offer are helping produce the talent needed to fill essential skills gaps and offer an avenue for everyone – regardless of entry qualifications – a door into education and upskilling.
“Providing all students, no matter their background or age, with the opportunity to develop their technical and professional skills, through high-quality qualifications, is essential to helping them achieve their full potential.
“It was also a great opportunity for us to learn how we could work together to address the various issues currently impacting the city region, and how we can ultimately support our communities as we all face these unprecedented times.”
To find out more about The City of Liverpool College, visit https://www.liv-coll.ac.uk/