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Open College Network West Midlands Centres: Lifetime learning for all

YMCA North Staffordshire

Joan Stanway and Chris Deakin from YMCA North Staffordshire talk about how their award winning employment and skills team are helping to inspire and progress young people, often from deprived areas, into work through a longstanding partnership with Open College Network West Midlands
 
“Open College Network West Midlands have been instrumental in assisting in the development of our business.  They have given great support over the years and have shown understanding in the work that we do here at the YMCA North Staffordshire. The flexibility of their qualifications has allowed us to deliver what our learners need to progress into employment and to achieve in their everyday life.”
 
Joan Stanway, Programme Co-ordinator  
Chris Deakin Training & Campus Operations Manager
 
 
 
Our youth campus is regarded as one of the best YMCA centres in the country and we have won the Youth Matters YMCA of the Year Award for 2014!  More than 1500 people use the YMCA every month from a wide customer base – young people, families, children, community groups, sports teams, vulnerable adults, youth clubs, business meetings, art classes because they find support and encouragement here. We are a place where young people, families and our communities can get access to services and resources that will help them develop a better future for themselves and others.
 
YMCA North Staffordshire offer a range of skills, education and training designed to help develop the social, personal and vocational skills learners need to increase their employability and sustain a meaningful job.  Young people accessing these programmes are offered dedicated tutors or training and employment coaches who will help develop a learning programme to suit their needs. Opportunities range from flexible learning programmes to fully accredited courses operating from the city’s network of Children’s Centres and the YMCA campus in the city centre. Our award winning employment and skills team have years of experience supporting learners to achieve their goals and giving them the confidence and skills to find rewarding jobs.
 
The Start Up Citywide initiative is aimed at supporting parents in some of the most deprived areas of Stoke on Trent to change their lives for the better. The programme works with parents with school-age children to improve their skills in English, Maths, ESOL, employer focussed skills and confidence to find a job.
 
YMCA North Staffordshire became a recognised Open College Network West Midlands Centre in 2006. We began delivering single Units from the Open College Network West Midlands Entry 3/Level 1 Award in Progression with Start Up Citywide.  These Units were aimed at adults who were unemployed and with the wide variety of units available allowed us to deliver courses aimed at specific employment sectors.  These were so successful in gaining learners employment that with the help of Open College Network West Midlands we created several courses aimed at learners achieving an accredited qualification, YES (YMCA Employment Skills), Cluster Group – Entry Level, Level 1 Step-Up Award and Certificate for the Alternative Provision programme, delivered to 14/15 year olds excluded from mainstream education and the Activ8 programme for 16/18 year olds who were not in employment, education or training. 
 
From these early beginnings Open College Network West Midlands has been instrumental in assisting YMCA North Staffordshire in the development of further courses these include; Progressive Employment Training programme – Open College Network West Midlands Award in Progression at Level 2, Level 1 Award in Work Preparation in the Service Industries, Level 2/Level 3 Award and Certificate in Information, Advice and Guidance, Level 3/Level 4 PTLLS and the Level 3 Award in Education and Training.
 
In 2014 YMCA North Staffordshire undertook to create a credit based Level1/Level 2 customised programme for a Tall Ship Company, Adventure Under Sail, where young people had the opportunity to serve as the crew on a sailing ship.  The aim of the programme was to show the transferable employability skills gained from this opportunity.  Open College Network West Midlands gave advice and suggestions on designing the different approaches to the creation of the units and their credit value.  The ‘Programme in Development of Employability and Living Skills’ was rolled out  in April 2015 with young people from YMCA North Staffordshire and Arch (North Staffs) Ltd on a voyage to Alderney. Along with the programme we created a workbook that enabled the young people to document their activities and their day, on board the ship. The programme was very successful and is now being offered to other groups of young people undertaking future voyages.
 
Open College network West Midlands have given great support over the years and have shown understanding in the work that we do here at the YMCA North Staffordshire. The flexibility of the qualifications has allowed us to deliver what our learners need to progress into employment and to achieve in their everyday life.
 
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