The West Midlands has powered up Britain for hundreds of years: A key driver from the days of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century, it has been at the forefront of anything from coal mining and car production to brickwork and glass factories. And its present day achievements in engineering and manufacturing have only strengthened that solid reputation.

But keeping those economic wheels in motion relies on a highly skilled, agile, adaptable and motivated emerging workforce - and that’s something the award-winning South and City College is passionate about.

In fact, its cutting edge Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Training Centre, coupled with innovative courses such as HNCs, apprenticeships and BTEC diplomas, are seeing the college at the epicentre of training.Its Longbridge campus (Bournville College) and Bordesley Green campus offer great opportunities in engineering and contribute to the city's growth and development.

And the college, a proud sponsor of the engineering and manufacturing category at The Greater Birmingham Apprenticeship Awards 2022, in partnership with the Ladder for Greater Birmingham campaign, has the accolades to prove it: The past year has seen it scoop Further Education College of the Year at the Education Awards as well as the award in Transforming Life through Partnership through its work with National Express.

South and City College works in partnership with National Express

It’s a great example of hard work, dedication, and a close connection with industry, paying off: In 2018, the National Express Engineering Training Academy was created at Bordesley Green campus. The focus was to create a workspace that encompassed all of the facilities needed to enable apprentices to have a realistic learning experience whilst in college that closely matched the workplace experience.

Engineering training manager for National Express, Lee Sandford explained: “From the very beginning of the project to create the National Express and South & City College Engineering Training Academy, we all knew that we had the opportunity to create something very special that would transform the opportunities and lives of people in the local area whilst addressing the skills shortage within the bus and coach industry. Through true partnership working, that included innovative thinking, joined-up processes and open communication, this initiative is making a fantastic positive impact.”

Principal for South & City College Birmingham, Mike Hopkins added: "We have been a supporter of the West Midlands Education Awards since its inception, but I am particularly pleased that this year we have been successful in winning two of the prestigious awards. It is a great achievement and recognises what the college does within Birmingham."

The Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Training Centre

Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Training Centre

This year has also seen the college launch its Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Training Centre. This centre allows engineers to gain qualifications up to level 4, allowing them to work on electric and hybrid vehicles. Hybrid and electric vehicles are the likely way forward in our region and nationally - more than 10 million electric vehicles (EVs) were on the road across the world in 2020. And The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said registrations of hybrid electric passenger cars accounted for 20% of the total EU market from July-September 2021.

But there is currently a skills gap for developing technology and industry, something the college is keen to address. Its investment in new qualifications and facilities at the Longbridge (Bournville College) campus is providing local people with the opportunity to train at a higher technical level and gain jobs - while at the same time supporting industry by enabling companies to employ skilled people and upskill existing employees. Normally this course would cost £1,500 per candidate.