East Sussex College (ESC) has pledged £1million to help retrain and upskill people in Sussex following the coronavirus pandemic. Its management say they intend to apply this sum out of their Adult Education Budget to support economic recovery in the county with a range of fully funded courses and qualifications. These are or will be available at no cost to businesses, their staff, and people looking for work. 

Staff who have been furloughed are able to access a range of online learning courses from home. There are 21 courses already available online that are included in the pledge, and the College is working with partners to develop new programmes over the weeks and months to come.

East Sussex College at Hastings Plaza
PICTURE: Wikimedia commons

Adults claiming Universal Credit will have access to pre-employment training programmes that are directly linked to job opportunities, studying intensively to achieve certificates and skills over a one-to-three week period.

College leavers and university graduates can benefit from employability training programmes to better equip them for the challenging labour market following their studies.

The fund will also be used to support the upskilling of existing workers and volunteers across the county with digital skills and business start-up training.

Face-to-face provision

As to social distancing, Daniel Shelley, ESC’s Executive Director, explains that the College authorities are working within government guidance and thus opening their campuses to a limited number of students. “Once the lockdown eases further we will be able to start providing face-to-face provision,” he says, “but this is likely to be a blended approach, with theory being delivered online and practical sessions at campuses or at partner sites such as Jobcentre-Plus sites and employer premises.”

The courses will be delivered and supported entirely by College staff – those employed currently as far as possible. However, for any provision that is “very specific”, or which requires expertise that the College doesn’t already have, it would look to secure tutors from outside.

Courses will be available at no cost to businesses, their staff, and people looking for work

“We are currently working with the Chambers of Commerce and FSB [Federation of Small Businesses] to discuss and develop programmes initially,” says Mr Shelley. “This will include sessions at their virtual business breakfasts, and we will be launching a short survey for any business to share their needs. We would also welcome conversations with local recruitment companies and other agencies that support individuals into work, as we would specifically like to develop programmes that provide the bridge between unemployment and work. Overall, we want to develop the programmes over the next 12 months to help at different points of the recovery, and would welcome any discussions about how that could be achieved.”

In the meantime the College still has its general adult provision, and the prospectus for this will be launched shortly, including a range of skills and leisure programmes of longer duration.

For further details of courses at East Sussex College, see escg.ac.uk/million-pound-pledge

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