Sunrise radio results day

With the growing skills shortage in key industries across the UK, improving workforce skills is critical, especially in London. West London College representatives were on Sunrise Radio speaking about alternatives to A-levels.

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) sector has a vital role in the UK’s economy during uncertain times, providing employment opportunities on a large scale. 124,000 engineers and technicians with core engineering skills are required per year, with 79,000 related roles requiring a mixed application of engineering knowledge and skills need to be filled every year to 2024.

These subjects have proven to be popular in the local area with engineering courses at West London College having some of the highest levels of demand amongst school leavers in 2018. Applications for Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, Electrical/Electronic Engineering and Mechanical Engineering have all increased since their introduction.

West London College has recognised the skills gaps and growing trends in the UK’s construction and engineering sectors and addressed them with new specialist sites equipped to provide students with the practical skills they need to access opportunities available in these sectors. 

West London Construction Academy, located in Southall, is a live pop-up site and real-working environment focusing on construction, bricklaying, plastering, drylining and interior systems courses. Park Royal College a purpose-built infrastructure hub in the heart of west London, offers a specialist provision for electrical installation, infrastructure, plumbing and carpentry courses with dedicated employer focused resources and modern technology, including virtual reality and 3D scanners, a laboratory for prototyping and testing construction practices.

With a higher number of students studying BTECs, the qualification type has also become more important in meeting this need with universities and employers recognising its value across the UK. According to Edexcel over 100,000 BTEC students apply to University every year with the number rising steadily year on year.  

BTECs and equivalent vocational qualifications are gaining in popularity across the country as an alternative to A-Levels, for both employers and universities. These qualifications focus on practical skills across a wide range of subjects. One of the main differences between BTECs and A-Levels is the assessment methods used. A-Levels involve two years of study with exams similar to GCSEs while BTECs are continuously assessed through coursework, exams and practical projects.

West London College offers full-time and part-time courses in a wide range of subjects giving our students the opportunity to gain vocational, professional and academic qualifications. We also offer free post-16 English & Maths GCSEs resits for students with Grade 3. For students with Grade 2 or lower the College offers English and Maths Functional Skills courses to enable students to achieve the required grades for reaching their career goals.

Duong Nguyen Van achieved one of the highest grades picking up an 8 (equivalent to an A*) in his Maths GCSE and is progressing to do A-levels. Duong said:

"I found it quite fun. It was easier than English as I didn't need to think as much. I would like to personally thank my teacher Asiya Khanom as she provided so much support and was always there when I needed her, especially when it came to mock exams. I will be progressing onto A-levels due to my success at GCSE."

Jessica Coutts scored a 6 in her English Language GCSE, she is progressing to University of Portsmouth to study Nursing. Jessica said:

"I was initially at a different college but moved to London where I started attending West London College. I was a year behind due to my move so I knew it would be a challenge to succeed, however, my teachers were really enthusiastic and wanted to help me achieve what I needed to go to university. The teachers here (at West London College) actually want to help so it was great to be studying here."

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