Plumpton College shows Government ministers how it handles skills gap facing employers

Two Government ministers have been shown how Plumpton College is helping to address the skills gap facing employers.

Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 4:07 pm

Both the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills - Chichester MP Gillian Keegan - and the Minister for Employment - Mid Susssex MP Mims Davcies - were given a tour of the college on Friday (December 4) and met staff, students and employers.

A spokesman for the college - which has recently launched an adult retraining programme - said: “The programme has been led by employers, who are in desperate need of entrants to their workforce, not only exacerbated by the current pandemic, but also by the impact Brexit has had on the labour market.”

The independent college has developed from its roots as an agricultural college to one of the most specialist providers of land-based courses, offering 19 different course subjects.

Ministers with Plumpton College principal Jeremy Kerswell and assistant principal Jo Buckley

Gillian Keegan said: “It was great to see first-hand how the college is working with the local community to equip them with the important skills our land, food and agricultural industries need and to make sure they have the talent pipeline they need to thrive.”

College principal Jeremy Kerswell revealed that the college has been awarded funding to invest in new centres of excellence for both the agri-food and horticulture industries.

Also there to meet the MPs was National Farmers Union south east regional chairman, Horsham farmer David Exwood. He said: “Plumpton College is at the forefront of delivering agricultural and viticulture skills’ training.

“It’s impressive to see how the college is working with industry partners to meet specific skills needs within the sector and how it has adapted to challenges posed by the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

MP Gillian Keegan with David Exwood of the NFU

He added: “As a rural business owner, I know first-hand how important it is for colleges to build industry partnerships so that the skills gap is addressed.” The college has a unique wine provision offering courses to degree level, with unrivalled facilities including a commercial winery and research laboratories. And it plans to launch further programmes in production horticulture and agriculture next year.

As well as adult programmes, the college offers a range of apprenticeships for learners of all ages, boasting both regional and national employer partnerships such as food wholesale operator Tesco Booker and The National Trust.