A success story involving five young students from North-East Worcester-shire (NEW) College demonstrates how the college's links with employers, praised recently as "innovative" by Ofsted, are meeting the needs of industry and young people.
The students, who have recently completed courses in motor vehicle studies at the college's Bromsgrove Campus, have now secured dream full-time jobs as technicians with legendary motorcycle giant Harley-Davidson.
The five, who will be taking up positions at Harley-Davidson dealerships in Southampton and Maidenhead are, 17-year-old Elliot Andrews and 21-year-old Richard Pepall, both from Birmingham, 18-year-old Paul Garvey and 19-year-old Alex Pauntney, both from Redditch, and 18-year-old Michael North from Wales.
The success of these young students is the most recent product of a partnership between the college, Harley-Davidson and Advantage West Midlands, which has seen the Bromsgrove-based college become the home of the US company's European Training Academy. The academy, the only one of its type in the UK, provides training for Harley-Davidson employees from across Europe, the near East and Africa, who had previously had to travel to the USA for their training.
"With the aid of financial support from AWM we have created a project that is benefiting the local economy as well as Harley-Davidson and our young students," said Neil Bromley, the college's principal.
"Well over a hundred Harley-Davidson employees have already visited the facility for training this year with other motor vehicle students at the college also having the opportunity to study in a facility that has been extensively equipped by the US company.
"Less than a year into the partnership, it has become clear that the collaboration is resulting in full-time students, often those with a history of modest achievements from their school careers, developing the high order skills that employers in the motorcycle industry are looking for.
"The Harley-Davidson partnership was one of a number of projects that inspectors pointed to in the college's Ofsted report, which judged the college as outstanding in all five of its summary grades, making NEW College one of only three general FE colleges to achieve this result so far in this inspection round."
Emily West, the after-sales manager for Southampton-based Dockgate 20, a branch of the Magic Group which is the Harley-Davidson dealership offering three of the jobs, said: "The Harley-Davidson training centre here at the college is an amazing facility. It's been superb for training our existing staff and now we've been given the chance to employ students from the college too.
"The students' interest and enthusiasm blew us all away. They genuinely appreciate the training they are given at the college and it will put them in such good stead in the working environment."
Mr Bromley added: "It's important to us here at the college to make contact with more companies who are interested in the benefits of education and training.
"Admittedly, this project has been very high profile, involving an international household name and a new £2 million building, but projects don't need to be as grand as this to be of interest to us.
"We would like to talk to any employer interested in finding out more about training."
The five young men have all relocated to Hampshire and Berkshire in readiness to start their new "dream" jobs in the next few weeks, but their association with NEW College is almost certain to continue with them returning as Harley-Davidson employees in the coming months and years to be updated on the companies' latest technical developments.