The Archbishop visited Derby College's Roundhouse campus as part of a three-day tour of the city and county, accompanied by the Bishop of Derby Alastair Redfern. He met a wide range of businesses and students who are part of a pioneering Employer Academy programme which is designed to bridge the gap between education and the workplace.
The Archbishop told the invited audience: "The work of Derby College and employers is inspirational and was quite rightly recognised as outstanding by Ofsted inspectors and as an example to be followed all over the country.
"I am therefore not surprised that Derby College is regarded as one of the top FE colleges in the UK. "I hope that the employers find that, through their efforts as part of this Academy, they will be able to recruit more skilled young people with a real enthusiasm for the work that they do."
Businesses involved in the Employer Academy programme at Derby College provide work experience placements, specialist lectures and mentoring to students to help boost their CVs and, in some cases, interviews for apprenticeships and jobs at the end of their course. One such lucky student was Joinery student Joel Orton (17) also from Chaddesden who found out at the event that he had secured an apprenticeship with Derby-based MBS Construction thanks to the Employer Academy programme.
MBS Managing Director Adam Stevenson said: "Joe has been working with us on a wide range of projects including outdoor fencing at Borrowash Victoria Football Club and the refurbishment of the Park Bikeworks for HUUB Design.
"He has the right skills and attitudes to work and I am delighted that he will be joining us as an apprentice this summer." Joel said: "I am over the moon with this news. I jumped at the chance to join the Academy as I knew it would improve my chances of a job after College. "It has been the opportunity to prove myself to MBS and I am really relieved that it has paid off. "Joe and fellow student Jack Gourley presented commemorative benches to the Archbishop and the Bishop of Derby as part of the event.
Ryan Duckett, commercial director at Cricket Derbyshire, which works with the College to run Hospitality and Sports Employer Academies, also presented the Archbishop with a cricket shirt to mark his visit to the county.
Other employers involved in the showcase included advanced composites manufacturers epm:technology who unveiled the trophy which involved Engineering students from the College and will be presented to the winners of the Jenson Button Trust Triathlon in the city on July 17.
Catering and Hospitality students working with the Finesse College's Cathedral Quarter Hotel and Seven bar and restaurant in Pride Park served non-alcoholic cocktails and canapes to visitors. Apprentices working with Atlas Groundworks highlighted the civil engineering work that they are doing alongside gaining qualifications at Derby College.
Representatives from Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust explained more about the volunteer work that Health and Social Care students from the College undertake with patients. Regional dance house Déda discussed student work placement opportunities that will be expanded this September through a new performing arts employer academy. And Business students who have working with HUUB Design, Derby Telegraph and First Response motor finance demonstrated their teamwork and problem-solving skills by building a tower from paper.
Representatives from each of the Employer Academies then received a certificate from the Archbishop alongside year ten students from city and county schools who attend Derby College for vocational training alongside their GCSE programmes. Professional Cookery students also prepared a light supper for the Archbishop and other guests and, earlier in the day, A level students from the College's Joseph Wright sixth form campus, took part in a debate about British values.
Derby College Chief Executive Mandie Stravino concluded: "We are honoured to have been chosen to be involved in the first official visit to Derbyshire by the Archbishop of Canterbury and my thanks goes to the continued support of the Bishop of Derby. "Our role as a College is to prepare learners for the next stage of their lives whether that be higher education, apprenticeships, entrepreneurship or the world of work. "I am therefore delighted that we have had the opportunity to showcase the work that we do here – ranging from the support of 14-year-old learners from our feeder schools through to the work of the Employer Academies."