Gower College Swansea to get world-class skills boost

Gower College Swansea to get world-class skills boost

Gower College Swansea is to get a world-class skills boost after being selected to join an elite training programme.

The College is one of 12 leading institutions (colleges and Independent Training Providers) to have been selected to join the skills revolution by becoming part of WorldSkills UK’s Centre of Excellence.

The Centre of Excellence – partnered and funded by educational charity and awarding body NCFE – will see more than 40,000 young students and apprentices, from all socio-economic groups across the UK, armed with world-class skills.

The Centre aims to supercharge the quality and delivery of technical and vocational training by transferring world-class expertise and knowledge to help develop educators and learners.

Building on recent success at Welsh and UK skills competitions, Gower College Swansea applied to become part of the Centre of Excellence to further enhance their delivery of excellent vocational education and training across subjects, but with a specific focus on STEM areas.

This prestigious programme will create opportunities for five staff members to participate in extensive professional development under the guidance of a WorldSkills UK training manager and disseminate the training with colleagues throughout the College.

Gower College Swansea is one of 12 institutions entering the Centre this year to join the first wave of 20 colleges selected last September, when the three-year pilot project was launched.

Educators at the colleges and training providers will receive exclusive train the trainer sessions and 60 hours of intensive continual professional development.

Educational institutions inducted this year are:

  • Gower College Swansea
  • Blackpool and the Fylde College
  • City of Glasgow College
  • Coleg Cambria
  • Firebrand Training (London)
  • JTL
  • New College Durham
  • Northern Ireland Consortium (six colleges)*
  • Oldham College
  • Solihull College and University Centre
  • Waltham Forest College
  • Weston College

In its recent Skills for Jobs White Paper for England**, the Government cited the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence, in partnership with NCFE, as a prime example of how it wanted organisations with the relevant expertise to provide high-quality training and development for teaching staff.

“We are so proud to be a part of the Centre of Excellence,” said Mark Jones, Principal of Gower College Swansea, “Skills development has been a strong focus of the College and our learners have benefitted greatly from the WorldSkills competitions, enjoying great success in them. We are excited to be able to utilize the knowledge from both WorldSkills UK and NCFE to further enhance our expertise and deliver top-class training.”

Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, CEO of WorldSkills UK, said: “In order to deliver the world-class skills that employers demand to be internationally competitive, we need to invest in the educators that are training young people for the future.

“The Centre of Excellence is a radical new way of bringing global best practice to local economies. Mainstreaming excellence in training standards and delivering it directly to tens of thousands of young students and apprentices at their places of learning is key to levelling up the economy and attracting inward investment.

“This new phase of the project means that we are now supporting young people the length and breadth of the UK.”

The programme covers three strands:

  • Train the trainer modules
  • Harnessing of international industry best practice through current preparation for WorldSkills Shanghai 2022
  • Influencing setters of training standards

The effectiveness of the programme will be tested by measuring impact on learners, educators and institutions in order to continually develop and innovate. This level of insight will help the organisations involved to develop a programme which will give more young people, irrespective of background, better work and life opportunities, and help boost economic productivity.

The three-year partnership deal is the single largest investment ever made by the NCFE Group.


  • Belfast Metropolitan College
  • Northern Regional College
  • Southern Regional College
  • South Eastern Regional College
  • North West Regional College
  • South West College

** Page 67

Gower College Swansea

Award winning company appointed to lead £750m Swansea regeneration

Award winning company appointed to lead £750m Swansea regeneration

Proposals, worth £750m, that would further transform Swansea city centre and develop new homes and attractions along the coast and riverfront have taken a major step forward.


Swansea Council has announced it has appointed award winning regeneration company Urban Splash as its preferred development partner for a number of key sites, including the Civic Centre, Swansea Central North and a plot of land running alongside the River Tawe in the St Thomas area of the city.

We are really interested to hear that a development partner has been appointed and we look forward to understanding more about their vision for Swansea. At 4theRegion, we are focused on how people, communities and businesses can get more involved in shaping the future of our region, including the design and construction of major developments and strategic investments like this. We want to make sure that major regional projects are delivered in a way that provides economic, social and environmental benefit over the long term, and ensure that the well-being of people and planet is at the heart of decision-making.

Early ideas for each site have already been proposed, and these will now be worked up in more detail. We are pleased to hear there will be plenty of opportunities for local people to give their feedback and help shape the plans.

Early proposals, which will be delivered by the private sector, include:

  • The transformation of the 23 acre seafront Civic Centre site into a new city waterfront district for Swansea. A mixed use destination anchored by the beach is proposed, with new homes and a strong leisure and hospitality focus, generous civic spaces and plenty of greenery. Other proposals include a new walkway to the beach and a mix of permanent and seasonal uses and events to create an all season visitor destination
  • New office buildings, new apartments for residents and shared workspaces on the 5.5 acre Swansea Central North site located at the former St David’s Shopping Centre site. We are pleased to hear, capitalising on the major growth in demand for craft based goods, that space for small creative businesses to make and sell their products could also feature
  • A residential led regeneration of a 7.5 acre riverfront site in St Thomas, featuring family homes, apartments, new public spaces and a new terraced river walk providing direct access to the river for the first time in over 150 years.

The council said their appointment of Urban Splash followed an extensive search for a preferred development partner as part of the Shaping Swansea initiative.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said: “The appointment of Urban Splash is a significant private sector vote of confidence not just in Swansea’s enormous potential, but also in the huge amount of regeneration work led by the council that’s already happening in the city, including our £135m Copr Bay phase one district. This work has acted as a catalyst to attract a company of Urban Splash’s quality and experience, and is part of a £1bn regeneration story unfolding across Swansea that’s transforming the city into one of the UK’s best places to live, work, study and visit.

“The regeneration of these three key sites will help take Swansea to the next level by creating thousands more jobs for local people, hundreds more new homes for local families and a mixed-use, vibrant city centre destination with the footfall it needs to thrive.

“Although subject to consultation in future to ensure people’s views are taken on board, the early proposals will help realise these goals, while also giving the stunning Civic Centre site on our world-class bay back to Swansea people and visitors to the city.

“We look forward to working with Urban Splash on further developing these exciting proposals for the people of Swansea to consider, along with ideas on how best to regenerate other key sites forming part of our Shaping Swansea plans.”

Urban Splash have developed over 60 regeneration projects across the UK in the last 25 years. These include the Royal William Yard project in Plymouth where the company has transformed a collection of Grade I and Grade II Listed waterfront structures into apartments, workspaces, galleries, bars and restaurants. The company is also undertaking the redevelopment of the Grade II Listed Park Hill in Sheffield into a mixed use cultural quarter, featuring hundreds of homes and workspaces – many of which are complete and fully occupied.

Jonathan Falkingham MBE, Urban Splash co-founder, is an award-winning architect who helped establish the regeneration company in 1993. In a press release, he said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working alongside Swansea Council and all of the partners involved in this fascinating project.

“I have a longstanding affiliation with this brilliant city, attending school here in my younger days. I’m pleased to be back in Swansea to help deliver such an exciting new era for the city. We have plans for a world-class environment of great architectural quality, that recognises and enhances the existing historic fabric of the local area and its beautiful location. We hope to achieve this through multi-authorship and partnering with brilliant designers to evolve the most appealing and sustainable designs for each area of this new neighbourhood.”

Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash Chairman, said: “For almost three decades now, Urban Splash has worked hard to transform the fortunes of towns and cities, breathing new life into places through applying great design ideas, and working with the local community to create beautiful buildings and spaces that are sustainable for all.

“We have been really impressed with the ambition and vision of Swansea Council and look forward to working in partnership with this amazing city on the beach, using our experience, capital and resources to strengthen their vision and deliver exceptional living, working and leisure spaces to help more people live well by design.”

We understand future proposals will also cover opportunities to develop other key sites across Swansea.

UWTSD appoints a Director of Marketing and Communications

UWTSD appoints a Director of Marketing and Communications

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) has appointed Jonathan Batty as its Director of Marketing and Communications.

Jonathan will be responsible for leading the development and delivery of an integrated marketing and communications strategy across the University.

Originally from Sheffield, Jonathan joined UWTSD from Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln where he held the role of Director of Marketing, Recruitment and Communications.

Previously he has been a member of the Marketing and Student Recruitment team at the University of Sheffield and has worked within a marketing agency, contributing his expertise on the use of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and content marketing strategies to improve business performance.

Jonathan is an experienced leader within the higher education sector which has enabled him to develop a well-rounded understanding of the wider national and international challenges facing universities in the UK as they seek to attract students and secure funding.

He has a demonstrable track-record of creating and implementing sustainable marketing strategies and utilising a data-driven approach, whilst allowing space for creativity and input from the wider team of stakeholders when developing strategies in line with organisational objectives. His expertise includes digital marketing and in particular the use of content marketing and display advertising as part of successful marketing campaigns.

Jonathan said on his appointment: “I was motivated to join UWTSD as I believe the university is ambitious to become globally recognised and respected. I believe that UWTSD offers an excellent environment for its staff, and I look forward to working with colleagues with complementary skills to implement strategies that will drive the University forward and ensure that it recruits students to its programmes and campuses. I have a strong work ethic and relish the opportunity to contribute to the future growth of the University, particularly as it looks forward to celebrating its bicentenary in 2022.”

Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor said: “I’d like to welcome Jonathan to UWTSD and look forward working with him as part of the University’s leadership team. This is an important appointment as we work together to deliver transformational change. Jonathan will provide strategic leadership for the Marketing and Communications professional teams as we look to further enhance our student recruitment activities and market presence in the UK and internationally”.

University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Simon Wright Appointed UWTSD Professor of Practice

Simon Wright Appointed UWTSD Professor of Practice

Simon Wright, restaurateur, broadcaster, food writer, and consultant has been appointed to the role of Professor of Practice by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).

The title of Professor of Practice is awarded to acknowledge an individual’s academic and/or professional distinction in a field which is aligned to the University’s mission and strategic direction. Professor Simon Wright’s expertise will be pivotal in assisting the University to develop initiatives which aim to deliver economic, social and cultural growth linked to local food and hospitality, sustainability, agriculture and rural entrepreneurship.

Professor Wright is a renowned champion of Welsh food and drink produce, sustainable agriculture and the hospitality industry. He has managed restaurants in Carmarthenshire for over 30 years and has developed a career as a broadcaster participating in a range of TV and radio programmes, including for the BBC and Channel 4. He was the restaurant consultant for Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares in the UK and Europe for 10 years, as well as a restaurant inspector for the AA’s Restaurant Guide. In 2010 he was named the Local Food Ambassador for Wales and was awarded the Wales True Taste Champion Award in the Welsh Government’s annual awards for his “dedication and devotion to Welsh food and drink”.

Simon has served on the Welsh Government Food and Farming Sector Panel and has been active for many years in contributing to food policy at all levels of government including the Food Strategy for Wales and the Food Tourism Action Plan. Most recently he has been working with Coleg Sir Gâr on designing further education courses based on sustainable and local food production and with Carmarthenshire County Council in radical efforts aimed at putting local food on the public plate.

He recently co-founded the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective as a response to the challenges facing the sector from Covid-19. The collective now has more than 300 supporting businesses across Wales and is actively engaged with Welsh Government on strategies for the survival and recovery of the sector.

Simon Wright, who also has a background in Town and Country Planning, said on his appointment: “I’m pleased to have this opportunity to play a role in supporting the University’s ambitions for sustainable regeneration in West Wales based around the rural economy and particularly the food and hospitality industries. There has never been a more crucial and acute time for these issues to be addressed. My passion is local food and all that comes with it – community, landscape, agriculture – and I’m delighted to have this opportunity and to be able to play a part in shaping the future of food and farming in West Wales and further afield”.

Professor Wright will be part of the team delivering Canolfan Tir Glas, a major development for the University’s Lampeter Campus. Its aim is to promote the local food industry, local sustainability, resilience, and enterprise within a rural context. Working closely with Ceredigion County Council and a range of local organisations, the initiative will strengthen the economic infrastructure of Lampeter and the surrounding area.

A core part of the scheme is the collaboration with food retailer Aldi to develop a food village on part of the University’s Pontfaen fields, as well as a food and hospitality training centre within the town. The development also includes the creation of a Rural Enterprise Hub and a University of Gastronomy on the University’s campus itself. Professor Wright will assist in the development of the Lampeter training restaurant as a commercial outlet for local and regional food and drink producers, assisting in the development of local food supply chains and primary and secondary food manufacturing in the region.

In addition, he will support research and enterprise, as well as curriculum development at all levels across the UWTSD Group, which includes Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion as constituent colleges.

Barry Liles, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Skills and Lifelong Learning and Head of the Wales Institute for Science and Arts said: “I’m pleased to welcome Simon Wright as a Professor of Practice to the University. The University will benefit from his expertise and experience in the food and hospitality industries, and in particular, the needs and demands for these industries in the rural communities of West Wales. We are developing an exciting curriculum, as well as research and enterprise initiatives to ensure that this crucial sector is supported by a highly skilled workforce as well as having access to the University’s expertise, technology and innovation, particularly post COVID”.

Gwilym Dyfri Jones, Provost of the Lampeter Campus who is leading on the development of Canolfan Tir Glas said: “I’m delighted that Simon Wright will be lending his expertise to the development of Canolfan Tir Glas. This initiative is underpinned by economic regeneration, with the aim of creating new jobs, attracting many more visitors to the town and increasing the number of further and higher education students studying in Lampeter. His insight and leadership on aspects of the project will be invaluable.”

Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor added: “Simon Wright’s appointment as a Professor of Practice is central to the University’s strategy for developing provision in Lampeter that is linked to regional needs and government sector priority areas. The development of such provision aims to support the recovery and resilience of our communities, post pandemic, through knowledge transfer, research innovation, workforce development and by providing a ready pipeline of skilled, digitally literate students and graduates, in partnership with employers. The food, farming and hospitality industries are the mainstays of those communities in West Wales and Professor Wright’s experience in advising government policy and working in these areas over the past 30 years makes him a great asset to the University. I’m pleased to welcome him to the UWTSD community”.

University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Hutchinson Thomas joins pilot scheme on comparison data for law firms

Hutchinson Thomas joins pilot scheme on comparison data for law firms

Law firm Hutchinson Thomas, which has offices in Swansea and Neath, is one of the first law firms in Wales to join a pilot project conceived by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) designed to standardise and improve quality indicators individuals might use to choose a legal provider.

Darren Davies, Partner at Hutchinson Thomas

The exercise, which is being run jointly by the SRA, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), CILEx Regulation and the Bar Standards Board (BSB), has brought together website providers and firms to encourage clients to post reviews about the services they received.

Hutchinson Thomas is one of more than 70 law firms that have already signed up to engage with a number of providers, to look at how reviews could add value to other comparison data, such as price.

There are a number of general and legal sector specific websites which already publish customer reviews and other information on legal service providers. The SRA also offers an information sharing service that allows such websites to access and publish already publicly available regulatory information on firms it regulates.

Now, in partnership with the CLC and CILEx Regulation, SRA has launched a pilot scheme involving both law firms and comparison website providers which aims to increase the amount of easily accessible, comparable information on the quality of legal service providers which is available to the public.

It has also developed a voluntary code of conduct for comparison websites taking part in the pilot activities. Though not compulsory, this code sets out the standards expected of these sites to ensure that they are independent, transparent and fair to both consumers and legal service providers.

Darren Davies, Partner, Hutchinson Thomas, said:

“We were delighted to be approached to participate in the pilot phase of this extremely innovative scheme that has the potential to revolutionise the way clients select legal services in the UK. We see this as having the potential to engender real change and create a fairer and more even playing field where it is possible for customers to select a legal provider based on true indicators of quality and expertise, which can be difficult at the moment.”

Commenting on the pilot, Tracy Vegro, SRA Executive Director, Strategy and Innovation, added:

“We were obviously confident of seeing the project produce meaningful results that would help develop meaningful quality indicators, but we did not expect to see such a strong level of engagement initially, and to see other, far-reaching effects emerging too. We originally said the pilot would run for six months, but we want to expand it to make sure we capture all the great work that firms are doing.

“As well as the marketing boost the pilot has given to law firms, many have also seen other benefits or view it as a catalyst for change. For example, some are reporting that they are incorporating customer feedback into individual staff performance reviews, adding them to the agenda at senior management meetings and using them as part of their rewards programmes. Positive feedback has also helped to boost staff morale.”

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