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East Londoners boost their workplace skills

With the ongoing expansion of UCL into East London (UCL East), we aim to contribute to improving the employment prospects of local people.

19 October 2018

In an area of London that is going through significant changes, the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) is working closely with local colleges and employers. In partnership, they're providing students with the opportunity to enhance their skills for the workplace.

A recently completed two-year programme, ELVET (East London Vocational Education and Training) helped pave the way to providing a qualified local workforce for the fast-growing digital, creative and social care sectors. More than 700 learners and over 200 employers gained from participation in the programme, which was funded with a grant from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.

Professor Ann Hodgson, Programme Director for ELVET, explained: "Further Education colleges have a central role to play in skills development for both young people and adults. The ELVET programme supported colleges to build new, deeper and more sustainable partnerships with key employers in three sectors crucial for the economy."

Colleges providing specialist workplace skills

Four local colleges took part in the programme: New City College Hackney, Barking and Dagenham College, Newham College and New City College Tower Hamlets. Each college worked with local employers to develop a particular area of expertise in relation to the changing demands of the workplace.

New City College Hackney focused on providing the skills needed for the digital sector. It aimed to enable young people under the age of 24 to progress into Level 3 and degree apprenticeships. It also helped local industries recruit from a wider talent pool that more accurately reflects the local community. At least 100 students took part in a ‘bootcamp’ with activities designed to prepare learners for progression to further education and employment using digital skills.

Barking and Dagenham College focused on employment in health and social care. The college developed partnerships with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the care sector to help upskill their workforce and introduce assistive technologies, where appropriate.

New City Tower Hamlets specialised in the creative and cultural industries, recruiting more than 10 employers, mostly SMEs, to participate in the programme. It helped students to develop the soft skills required to access employment in this sector.

Newham College focused on developing ways of improving partnerships between employers and the colleges across East London. It provided research support to each of the other three projects.

Project influences direction of local colleges

According to Professor Hodgson: "The lessons learnt from this experience are now influencing the way these colleges work and are being extended to other sectors of the economy and other neighbouring colleges."

In particular, the relationships built between employers and colleges went beyond the traditional concept of ‘skills supply’, where employers articulate what they want, and colleges provide learners with those skills. Instead, the focus was on employer-provider ‘co-production’ – a two way dialogue between colleges and employers that allows for greater levels of innovation and skills development.

Further information

More information about the programme can be found at the ELVET website where 30 short ELVET films can also be accessed.


Read more about how UCL is supporting people in getting qualilfied or browse all case studies.