Government minister checks in to Burnley College for 'virtual' visit

The government minister, at the heart of the Department for Education, has paid a ‘virtual' visit to Burnley College to talk to its Themis apprentices, their tutors and trainers and to view some of the amazing facilities in its £100 million town centre campus.
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Gillian Keegan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, checked in from her offices in Westminster for the virtual visit, in which she 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.

The visit, hosted by principal of Burnley College Karen Buchanan, deputy Principal Simon Jordan and

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Director of Themis Neil Burrows, spotlighted how Themis and the wider college community has adapted over the past three months, including:

A virtual visit from Gillian Keegan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, is something staff and students at Burnley College will remember for a long time (photo by Richard Tymon)A virtual visit from Gillian Keegan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, is something staff and students at Burnley College will remember for a long time (photo by Richard Tymon)
A virtual visit from Gillian Keegan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, is something staff and students at Burnley College will remember for a long time (photo by Richard Tymon)

* How training, teaching and learning has continued throughout the Covid-19 lockdown period and beyond, with tutors and trainers providing engaging, interactive opportunities online for apprentices and students to further enhance their learning through access to additional, high-level resources

* How intense planning and adherence to government recommendations has enabled Themis to once again open its doors to limited numbers of apprentices to continue their practical training.

* The launch of Themis’s innovative pre-apprenticeship programme to ensure school leavers have access to high-quality, industry-specific training while the economy recovers and they await their ideal apprenticeship opportunity.

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*Increased communication and liaison between Themis and employers to ensure potential apprentices receive the latest training relating to safe working practices and are ‘workforce-

ready’ to join their existing teams the moment business increases post-Covid-19

* How themis apprentices have been at the very forefront of the national response to Covid- 19, using their specialist skills, adaptability and resilience to ensure their employers and communities have the resources and support needed throughout these unusual times.

The minister also saw how Themis and Burnley has united over lockdown and beyond to offer the kindness, understanding and support needed – alongside a plethora of digital resources - to each individual member.

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Karen Buchanan said: “We are immensely proud of everything our Themis apprentices and their tutors and trainers have achieved – not just through the Covid-19 period but throughout the year – and it has been a privilege to showcase our amazing achievements and innovation to the minister.

“It was a great opportunity for us to highlight how our role at the very heart of the business community in the North West is integral to the region’s economic recovery. How our position as a leading voice on advisory boards, in employer forums and networks and on round tables gives us the vital insights into the future training needs of employers.

"How we can shape our apprenticeship training and business skills training to dovetail with these needs and help to shape a dynamic, forward-thinking and motivated workforce with the high-level skills and knowledge needed for the post-Covid-19 business landscape.

“We were also pleased to discuss in depth our innovative pre-apprenticeship programme to ensure school leavers do not miss out on great apprenticeship opportunities to launch successful careers - and employers have the skilled, motivated apprentices ready to fit seamlessly into their workforce when needed.

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"This is a shining example of Burnley leading the way in solving problems created by Covid-19 across both the training and business sector and one we hope can be adopted by training providers nationally.”

During the visit the Minister also 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 and met the star of Sir Alan Sugar’s ‘The Apprentice’ Adam Corbally, who has led regular successful

motivational training sessions with students and apprentices alike to enable them to recognise their amazing potential and inspire them to be their very best.

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She also chatted with degree apprentices who are studying at the College’s UCB (University Courses

Burnley) base, and met high-flying, award-winning apprentices at all stages of their journeys,

Mrs Keegan 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.

“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.

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"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.

“I wish them all the best and look forward to hearing more about their brilliant work.”

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