More training to support the country’s transition to electric cars will be introduced at Harrogate College this September.
Harrogate, as recently widely reported in the media*, has been revealed to be one of the ‘worst prepared areas in the UK’ in terms of supporting the shift to electric vehicles.
Those findings were mainly based on the current scarcity of public charging points, with research showing that the district has just one for every 134 electric or hybrid cars.
Harrogate College, however, is working hard to address the issue by providing technical courses to support the electric vehicle (EV) sector – and has just bought some charging units to use in training this September.
Working with businesses to fill the green skills gap
Principal Danny Wild said: “As a college committed to sustainability, we are determined to support emerging green technologies, including those that will enable our transition to greener forms of transport.
“We have been developing our curriculum to provide electric vehicle infrastructure courses, while tailoring our motor vehicle courses to meet the changes in car ownership.
“In doing so we have also been working closely with local firms so we can provide the appropriately skilled, work-ready students they need.
“The electric vehicle sector is a rapidly growing one that represents a fantastic opportunity for both our students and local businesses, and our ever-evolving range of courses will keep adapting to serve that.”
Harrogate district’s electric vehicle future is bright
APS, which runs a national electric vehicle charger repair and maintenance service from its Harrogate HQ, has partnered with the college to set up a training and recruitment programme to meet the growing demand for EV service engineers.
Business Development Manager John Dyson said that was one of many reasons for optimism: “It is ironic that Harrogate has been criticised so strongly for a lack of action over installing EV chargers, when there actually is so much going on behind the scenes.
“Recent announcements by Transdev, that all Harrogate buses are to be electrified, and Harrogate Borough Council, which is to install 34 charge points in local car parks, gives a taste of just what is on its way!”
The college will introduce a new course, the Level 3 Award in the Installation and Commissioning of Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment, this September.
*For example, in this Harrogate Advertiser report.
The three-week event was launched at Harrogate College on Saturday 2 October when more than 30 sustainability-focused exhibitors talked to visitors, many of whom had reached the venue by bicycle.
They were treated to everything from environmental talks by expert guest speakers to encounters with friendly therapy sheep, an electric converted campervan, a passive house and bike-powered smoothies.
Guests also enjoyed live music courtesy of Leeds Conservatoire, inspired by the theme of climate, and an array of vegan and vegetarian food prepared by Harrogate College students.
“There’s a window of opportunity for us to take action collectively and it’s not just about business and government, it’s about all of us as well. Through small actions, done collectively, we can make a big difference.”
Harrogate College Principal Danny Wild, stressing the vital role that education providers have in delivering the green skills that are needed by employers to secure a greener future, said: “We need to be at the centre of providing the local economy with the right skills.”
Green skills for a green future
The college is focused on becoming a local centre of green excellence and under its Sustainability Pledge is committed to becoming net zero carbon by 2030. Mr Wild also announced that all of its full-time students will be studying a carbon literacy qualification this year.
He added: “We’re going to require people to acquire new skills at all levels of the workforce.
“So when we’re in conversation with businesses we’re talking to them about the skills they need for upskilling. From the college’s point of view we need to be addressing those skills needs now.”
Professor of Earth Observation at the University of Leeds, Andy Shepherd, echoed those sentiments while outlining just how urgently action is needed.
He told the audience that the Earth is currently losing a staggering one trillion tonnes of ice a year but identified several areas where action could make a difference.
Those included building earth-monitoring satellites, fixing our climate models and adapting our cities (and homes) to be more efficient and sustainable.
He said: “We need to upskill the workforce and do it now and make sure we can afford these changes and make them in a reasonable timeframe. We need to become a nation of retrofitters.”
New ways of thinking about technology and transport
Event sponsor Techbuyer – along with its sister businesses Ortial and Interact – had an eye-catching exhibit set up right beside the college’s front entrance, which gathered a lot of attention.
The display included a bicycle sculpture made out of redundant IT parts and a sandpit filled with examples of now obsolete devices.
Marketing and Design Manager at Ortial, Tiffany Mazza, said the idea was to shine a light on the high environmental cost of new technology and the drive to constantly replace it with ‘the next big thing’.
She said: “We need to start thinking about buying more sustainably and upgrading what we have, instead of throwing out and replacing.”
Another outdoor exhibitor that proved popular was eDub, which specialises in electric vehicle conversions – and has found a profitable niche focusing on converting iconic models including campervans and Vespa scooters.
Sustainable farming and housing – with a vision of the future
Cath Wilson from Corn Close Care Farm at Pateley Bridge, meanwhile, was taking part – supported by two volunteers – to promote the concept of sustainable wool and grazing.
The therapy sheep she brought along, Tiny and Dave, proved a big hit especially with younger visitors.
And James McKay from the University of Leeds attracted plenty of attention as he was putting the finishing touches to a painting of The Stray, in Harrogate, as it might look in a more sustainable future.
Visitors also enjoyed looking around a model passive house, built to be virtually carbon zero, which had been installed in the college grounds by Pure Haus.
Inspiring start to three weeks of action
Reflecting on a busy day packed with positivity, Harrogate College’s Partnerships and Development Lead, Holly Hansen-Maughan, said: “We were really busy and have had so much positive feedback from visitors.
“We are proud to have been able to host the launch of this important festival and wish to express our sincere thanks to everyone who exhibited, contributed and came along.
“We hope some of the ideas that were shared go on to inspire lots of people to take action.”
Leeds City College, a member of Luminate Education Group, has secured funding as part of the Post-16 Capacity Fund Application 2021-22, to develop an additional building at its Printworks campus on Hunslet Road.
ONS data shows a rise in 16-year-olds in Leeds from 2021 and this will increase the demand for student places, with more young people looking to enter further education. This investment will enable Leeds City College’s Printworks campus to meet these capacity needs now and in the future.
The new building, which will be based on part of the car park, will create additional capacity with 11 new classrooms for 335 students. The space will be tailored to focus on engineering and manufacturing, creative and digital, as well as finance and professional courses. As the city’s leading provider of vocational training, the funding will help Leeds City College continue to meet the growing student demand.
Cheryl Smith, Principal at Leeds City College’s Printworks campus, said: “This funding is not only welcomed, but essential if we are to continue offering exceptional and inclusive learning experiences for our students. By developing new, built-for-purpose learning spaces it means we can not only meet the demand of growing student numbers, but create quality learning environments that allow them to thrive.
“Giving young people access to a 21st century education experience is more important than ever, but to do that we need to have the appropriate facilities and adequate space to deliver this. The Printworks campus is already home to an impressive world class kitchen, tailored engineering workshops, salons and studios, digital suites and air cabin, but we know we can offer more to ensure no young person gets left behind.
“Over the last four years, Printworks campus has seen a 7.1% increase in students. We are already at capacity, which makes the need for this extra space even more important. This funding allows us to commit to meeting this demand and continue to offer a bright future for the students that come to learn with us.”
The new building, which is set to be ready in Autumn 2022 is aligned to Leeds City Region’s target to be the UKs first carbon neutral city by 2038, as well as the Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
Luminate Education Group has teamed up with partners across the Leeds City Region to host a series of free short courses for adults, as part of the national Festival of Learning.
The group is working alongside local organisations and education providers to get adults in the region back into education, following the challenges of the pandemic.
Now in its 29th year, the Festival of Learning (formerly Adult Learners’ Week) was launched to celebrate adult students and encourage others to participate in lifelong learning.
Cllr Jonathan Pryor, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education at Leeds City Council, said: “Over recent years, although Leeds has continued to prioritise adult education, we’ve seen it become less of a priority across the country. A lack of confidence amongst adult learners due to the pandemic, paired with historic funding cuts and reduced support, has resulted in the lowest adult participation in a decade. This partnership aims to celebrate the important role learning can play in adult lives and encourage them back into education.
“Skills are very high on the agenda for business recovery and growth post-pandemic. The partnership reflects that adult learning is available at all levels and stages of life; whether that’s starting from scratch with a new skill, brushing up and updating knowledge or taking it to an advanced level.”
As part of the Festival of Learning, adults will be encouraged to develop skills, enhance their employability and improve wellbeing through a range of taster sessions, residential days, virtual seminars and open days.
Yultan Mellor, Principal and Chief Executive at Northern College, added: “The festival is a superb opportunity for us to shine a spotlight on the different expressions of adult learning across the region, including community, college, home and residential settings. Our collaborative activities aim to showcase the benefits of adult education, including flexibility, financial support, personalised experiences and positive wellbeing outcomes.”
Launched in July, the Festival of Learning activities started with an Introduction to Digital Photography and Editing two-day residential course on 14 and 15 July at Northern College. Additional events included ‘An Introduction to Student Finance’ webinar from the Lifelong Learning Centre, University of Leeds on 14 July.
Ann-Marie Spry, Vice Principal of Adults at Luminate Education Group, commented: “Adult education is central to the rebuilding of our economy in a post-Covid environment. Therefore, we are working with key stakeholders in the area to demonstrate how lifelong learning can better equip learners to adapt to unexpected change and enhance their skills, in order to suit the ever-changing job market.
“This partnership brings together experts across the region to identify how we can work together to achieve shared objectives to raise the profile of this vital agenda. Drawing expertise and insight from our partners helps us to understand the current climate, allowing us to overcome barriers to learning and champion adult education.”
In the next academic year, the partnership will be encouraging learners to take part in ‘Have a Go’ activities, providing adults with the opportunity to try different courses and discover their passion. Rebuilding relationships with the community will also be a key focus for partnership activities, including taster sessions in local community centres.
The group, including Leeds City College, Keighley College, Harrogate College, White Rose Academies Trust and University Centre Leeds, is working with partners including West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Council, Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges, University of Leeds, The Prince’s Trust and Northern College, to deliver shared adult learning objectives.
Innovations fuelled by scientific research are at the heart of the fight against the many threats facing our environment.
At University Centre Leeds (UC Leeds) increasing numbers of students have been choosing ‘green’ subjects for their dissertations in a bid to support such work.
UC Leeds, like its parent body, Luminate Education Group, acknowledges that the world is currently facing a climate emergency and is committed to taking action to improve sustainability.
The environmentally-focused research that is being carried out by Biomedical Science students chimes perfectly with that, and has been hailed by UC Leeds’s Dean of Higher Education, Janet Faulkner, as ‘amazing’.
Outstanding recent projects have included a dissertation on the impact of acid rain and another on how waste water in general, and laboratory cleaning fluid in particular, affects aquatic plants.
Spurred to act by the climate emergency
It was a recent environmental catastrophe that inspired Biomedical Science (BSc Hons) graduate, Eleanor Thomas, to explore why some green plants are much more resistant to acid rain than others.
She said: “I decided on my topic following some extreme environmental disasters, the main one being the Australian wildfires that took place in 2019/20 in which over 27 million acres of forest were burnt.
“This inspired me to begin questioning the impact on life if important ecosystems and species of plants were to become extinct, and what could be done to prevent this.
“I looked into the increasing issue of acid rain and the concerns surrounding its irreversible environmental, cultural, and medical effects, and decided to investigate to what extent acid rain damages plants.”
Her work identified which parts of plants were worst affected by acid rain, opening up a route for further studies – including how susceptible species could be genetically modified to better protect them.
Dacosta Owusu’s dissertation topic, meanwhile, was driven by the role of aqua-culture, and its importance to nutrition in his home country of Ghana.
He said: “I chose the subject having considered the way we dispose of waste water from domestic, laboratory and industrial settings and its impact on aquatic plants.
“In Africa, a lot of people throw waste water away after washing their clothes and utensils, without knowing the significant effects on the plants around them.”
Dacosta’s work involved growing water plants in four different mediums (pure water, disinfectant, a general detergent, and a treated compost) and then extracting and examining chlorophyll from each of them.
He found that organic pollution could limit plant growth, though not fatally – but that just a low concentration of cleaning agents would kill them.
Dedicated staff and a supportive learning journey
Reflecting on his experience at UC Leeds, he said: “I achieved my BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science despite having three children, work and school.
“I must say that University Centre Leeds has the facilities, lecturers and a well-structured academic system to improve the well-being of every individual, irrespective of their background.”
Eleanor, who is hoping to study for a Masters degree in the near future, echoed those sentiments. She is currently gaining valuable laboratory experience while working in drug development as a validation analyst in immunochemistry.
She said: “Resources to support my studies were always accessible at UC Leeds, even throughout the pandemic when we had limitations, such as no access to physical books in the library.
“Staff and tutors would always ensure you were equipped with everything you needed to complete assignments and revise for exams, and dedicated staff were available to aid in areas such as researching techniques, essay writing, and referencing.
“There was never a time where I felt stuck for someone to turn to for help. At UC Leeds you are supported in all aspects of student life and staff are there to help you with wellbeing, finances, equipment or any problems.
“My experience in Biomedical Science was extremely positive and I would recommend the courses to anyone looking to pursue a qualification in science.”
Quality research with an environmental focus
Dean of Higher Education, Janet Faulkner, said: “Our students are passionate, as we all are at University Centre Leeds, about the environment and are determined to do whatever we can to help limit, or reverse, some of the damage that is being done.
“More and more of our science students have responded to the climate emergency by choosing environmental subjects, with practical applications, for their dissertation topics.
“It is research like this that will be key to us finding the best ways to innovate and change our ways so that we give our planet an urgently needed chance to recover.”
The academic and vocational quality of the science courses at UC Leeds, which place a strong emphasis on developing practical laboratory skills and industry-relevant experience, has been recognised by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).
The RSC has named UC Leeds as one of the accredited providers of the Laboratory Technician Advanced Apprenticeship which includes a level 4 Certificate in Higher Education, Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Science. For more details on science subjects at UC Leeds, visit ucleeds.ac.uk/science-courses .
There were plenty of high performers, among all genders, graduating in the fields of Biomedical Sciences, Computing, Engineering, Cyber Security, and Computer Games this year.
Some of the highest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) achievers were studying in digital fields such as cyber security, networks and applied computing.
The success of female students was particularly notable, with nearly two thirds (60 per cent) achieving a First Class Honours degree and 91 per cent successfully completing their studies.
It comes as women are under-represented in courses and employment in STEM disciplines, which in recent years have become more lucrative as there is a desire to nurture future technical and industry workers, scientists, inventors and engineers.
Dean of Higher Education at University Centre Leeds, Janet Faulkner, said: “We have had amazing results from all of our STEM degree students and it is particularly heartening to see how female students have been excelling in these courses.
“The push to achieve more equal representation in STEM subjects at all levels of education continues but results like these show how much progress is being made. We’re looking forward to welcoming more students, of all genders, in this year and sharing our expertise with them and supporting them as they embark on their chosen degrees.”
One student is Ellen Hudson-Barrett who progressed from level 3 at Technology Campus, through a Foundation Degree, to gain a First Class degree on the BSc (Hons) Cyber Security and Networks.
She had sales and finance jobs while she was studying and is now herself looking to go into teaching. She has enrolled on the PGCE course at University Centre Leeds and will be doing her placement back at UCL.
Ms Hudson-Barrett said: “I have been studying at UC Leeds and Leeds City College for the last five years. The support I have received from my tutors throughout has been excellent. They gave me the reassurance and confidence I needed to achieve the best of my ability.
“Having completed the final year of my degree during the pandemic, I was worried that this was going to have an enormous impact on my grade. However, my tutors continued with their guidance and support remotely which allowed me to focus and have the resources I needed to complete my coursework.
“I have really enjoyed my time with the college and the university centre and feel they have not only helped me with my academic achievements but have provided an environment where I could develop and grow my confidence in my professional and personal life.
“I have been offered some amazing opportunities to fulfil my career goals and aspirations and am now studying for my PGCE through the college, with the hope of becoming a Higher and Further Education lecturer in the coming years.”
There is a national shortage of STEM skills which the government has recognised – and it acknowledges that a continuing under-representation of women is exacerbating the problem.
But it also notes that, as this year’s results at University Centre Leeds demonstrate, there is cause for optimism.
Between 2011 and 2020, the number of women accepted onto full-time STEM undergraduate courses increased by 50.1 per cent in the UK. Within the same period, the proportion of women entering full-time undergraduate courses taking STEM subjects increased from 33.6 per cent to 41.4 per cent.”