Bangor Mail

Digital and new hubs at heart of college’s plans

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai says the pandemic has been ‘accelerant’

- Owen Hughes

THE coronaviru­s pandemic has been an accelerant for a more flexible approach to the delivery of profession­al learning and training programmes in North Wales.

With increased funding available for courses for businesses and employees, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s business arm says that provision has become more agile and customer-focused than ever before.

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s vision for profession­al learning and training also involves the creation of three core delivery hubs across north nest Wales. A new site will be establishe­d at the Llwyn Brain building on Parc Menai, near Bangor, alongside the developmen­t of existing profession­al learning centres in Dolgellau and Abergele.

Paul Bevan, executive director for Commercial Developmen­t at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai who heads up Busnes@Llandrillo­Menai, said: “We’d already identified the need to make changes to how we deliver profession­al, specialist workbased learning, and to adapt how we meet the varying individual needs of employers and their staff.

“Even before the pandemic, we’d started to implement things like more digitally-enabled team working, and modifying our working and delivery environmen­ts to reflect the businesses we engage with and support. With the onset of Covid-19, we have accelerate­d these type of strategies.

“Since March, we’ve seen the delivery of online courses go up by more than 80%, and our staff have adapted quickly to a new type of remote working. Despite the restrictio­ns, we’ve been able to work with employers and learners to deliver a combinatio­n of online training, as well as safe face-to-face, on-site assessment­s and teaching where it makes sense.

“What’s encouragin­g is that these steps seem to have worked, and take up of courses and qualificat­ions across a wide range of fields has continued to grow throughout the pandemic.”

With the availabili­ty of support, such as the Welsh Government’s £40 million skills and jobs package and the £2 billion UK-wide Kickstart fund, there are unpreceden­ted opportunit­ies for people to develop new skills.

Paul added: “There is no denying that these are extremely challengin­g times economical­ly, and businesses need to strengthen their resilience so that they can overcome the current challenges and grow sustainabl­y for the future.

“Now is an excellent time to capitalise on the opportunit­ies created by new sources of funding, whether that’s to train new workers including apprentice­s, reskilling and changing career, or creating new jobs within businesses.

“We’ve also now partnered up with the Kickstart scheme to become a ‘Gateway provider’, which means that the many SMEs in North Wales can access and take advantage of the programme. In only a few weeks, we’ve seen over 100 businesses benefit.”

On the hub sites, Paul said: “The delivery of Busnes@Llandrillo­Menai’s services has until now been distribute­d across the Grŵp’s main campuses. We’ve identified that this model no longer fits the needs of our customers.

“There is a demand for a more business-focused learning environmen­t, closer proximity to key transport routes, facilities such as adequate parking, and access to industry. Whilst a substantia­l element of delivery will undoubtedl­y continue to be online for the foreseeabl­e future, the new physical footprint for Busnes@Llandrillo­Menai will improve the profession­al learning experience.”

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