Government minister makes 'virtual' social distance visit to Burnley College

College staff in Burnley have taken social distancing to a new level.

Burnley College hosted a virtual visit from parliamentary under secretary  for apprenticeships and skills, Gillian Keegan
Burnley College hosted a virtual visit from parliamentary under secretary for apprenticeships and skills, Gillian Keegan

Forget the two metre rule, there was nearly 300,000 metres between Burnley College staff and their latest VIP when they hosted a ‘virtual visit’ from apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan from her office in Westminster.

Thanks to technology, under-secretary of state had a chance to talk the college's Themis students and discussed the impact of Covid-19 on the training sector and how Themis’s close links with employers are vital to secure the North West’s future business prosperity.

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She heard from principal of Karen Buchanan, deputy Simon Jordan and director of Themis Neil Burrows, how Themis and the wider college community has adapted over the past three months, with teaching an learning continuing online.

Themis has now been able to open its doors to limited numbers of apprentices to continue their practical training and the pre-apprenticeship programme has been launched to ensure school leavers have access to high-quality, industry-specific training.

Karen Buchanan said: " We are immensely proud of everything our Themis Apprentices, their Tutors and Trainers have achieved – not just through the Covid-19 period but throughout the year – and it was a privilege to showcase our amazing achievements and innovation to the minister."

During the virtual visit the minister was given a virtual tour of the college's state-of-the art facilities as well as meeting with star of Sir Alan Sugar’s ‘The Apprentice’ Adam Corbally who has led regular training sessions with students and apprentices and degree apprentices studying at the college’s UCB (University Courses Burnley) base.

And, she remotely guided one of the college’s 3D printers to create a portcullis-design coaster in the high-tech Industry 4.0 hub in its Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence

She said: " It was fantastic to virtually visit Burnley College , who are leading the way in making sure people across the region gain the skills they need to progress – with outstanding teachers, working with local employers and state of the art equipment, including 3D printers and drones.

"I met many inspiring, fantastic apprentices, some of whom have won national and local awards and are working in a range of exciting industries including advanced manufacturing, engineering, healthcare and horticulture.

"I was delighted to meet a real frontline hero, Sabena, a pharmacy assistant apprentice, who has been on the frontline during Covid-19, making sure patients get the medication they need during this unprecedented time. "

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Karen Buchanan added: "Coming so soon after Burnley College Sixth Form Centre was named number one in England by the Government for its student achievement rates, to host this ministerial visit was a real honour and shows just how we are making an impact nationally.

"We hope that, once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, the Minister will come to visit us in person and experience the amazing atmosphere of possibility and achievement that surrounds you when you enter our outstanding campus."