Beginning in October, the Gateway Certificate in Vocational Training is offered by the university’s business school to provide the skills that employers define as the top priority for today’s and emerging workplaces.
Focusing on the real challenges of each workplace and finding solutions to them, the short course has been developed in collaboration with employers, chambers of commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses.
The University Level (Level Four) qualification is launched as the Northern Powerhouse identifies gaps in education and workplace-focused skills that need to be filled. At the Northern Powerhouse Education and Skills Summit 2022, it was clear that flexible education and reaching a wider audience is key to closing skills gaps in the economy to ‘level up’.
As part of its long-term strategy, the university has undertaken significant engagement with key employment sectors, particularly healthcare and those related to industrial decarbonization and net zero. This work has highlighted that these sectors are changing rapidly, as are the skills required to fill existing and emerging roles, with 80% of the 2030 workforce already in place.
The course also responds to the government’s commitment to enable adults to retrain and improve their skills later in life. It is eligible for the new short course tuition loans as well as scholarships for learners who need help with the cost of education.
Vicky Evans, Senior Lecturer at the Business School’s Center for Professional and Economic Development and course leader, said: “This unique workplace short course has been created in partnership and with particular attention to building skills and businesses in a complex and uncertain global environment.
“While our degrees incorporate professional skills development and experience, this is a new option for workplace professionals, specifically designed for people who may not have had the opportunity going to university or who wish to resume university studies. . It is also designed to benefit their businesses. With this certificate, employees can focus on their professional development and upgrading to stimulate their future potential career paths, while bringing immediate positive change to organizations.
“Each module has been designed to meet the specific development and business needs that employers have told us are their top concerns in today’s workplace. Professionals can choose to study three work-oriented modules from the following options: Confidence in Technology and Technological Innovation; Effective Communication for the 21st Century; Develop agility, resilience and well-being; and leadership, emotional intelligence and change.
Vicky added that the course is open to students from a wide range of backgrounds, professions and industries, with no formal entry requirements as previous work experience is taken into account. This is a full qualification in its own right, but the intention is that it could also lead to further useful study, including a full undergraduate degree, as it fits within the flexible framework of University work-based learning that allows progression to individually negotiated studies.
Richard Sheehan, Chief Executive of the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “As a Chamber of Commerce, we are woven into the very fabric of the Shropshire business community. We are thrilled to have been part of creating this innovative approach to workforce development in a way that companies have been asking for. Short, to the point and high impact delivery to learners is essential as companies are often understaffed and struggle to lose people for long periods of time.
The Gateway certificate is also designed to be flexible and manageable alongside work and family life. Primarily workplace-based but with networking opportunities, each module requires students to be present for a single day in class as well as half a day of online supported learning. There are no formal exams as assessment is part of workplace practice, adding value to the job role, such as a detailed report, research project or presentation. The gateway certificate can be completed within six to eight months, with the option to take longer if needed.