Five years ago, Northern Ireland’s North West Regional College opened a dedicated business support centre (BSC) in response to the region’s economic and employment challenges.
Today, it supports more than 1,300 companies, providing bespoke upskilling and training opportunities, and working with local employers to source funding for innovation and research projects. The centre has a specialist team of 23 staff, who receive regular training and attend conferences, trade missions and events to keep their industry knowledge and skills up to date.
This year, the BSC has trained more than 630 apprentices, upskilled 550 employees to level 2 or above across 325 business and undertaken more than 140 specialist interventions to assist businesses in developing new products, processes and services. The hub now includes specialist centres for food and drink, and product design, as well as a centre dedicated to the design of assisted-living centres.
Awards winners: Cambridge Regional College wins
As a direct result of the BSC’s work, 614 jobs have been created in the region. The college’s revenue from innovation income and skills has rocketed from £109,000 in 2015 to £1.2 million in 2019.
A £7 million rebuild is currently under way at the college’s Springtown campus, a clear commitment to ensure that students receive vocational training in cutting-edge facilities to meet with current industry need.
The judges said that North West Regional College had given staff and students a real chance to engage with employers, while simultaneously responding to the needs of businesses. They added: “Creating a centre that employers gain real value from benefits everyone at the college over and over again.”