College chiefs met last week to mark the merger between two colleges in Worksop and Rotherham- a move set to shake-up education and employment across the region.
The Rotherham and North Notts Group (RNN Group) is being formed by the merger of North Notts College, based on Carlton Road in Worksop, and Rotherham College with its campuses in Rotherham town centre and Dinnington.
Both colleges will retain their existing names, however.
College chiefs said that the new education and training group would “enhance opportunities for thousands of residents” and “help businesses recruit apprentices and develop their staff.”
RNN group currently teaches and trains over 15,000 students each year, including over 4,000 apprentices, employs more than 1,000 staff and has an income of over £45m per year.
It delivers education, training and skills in most occupational areas, including engineering, construction, health, business, digital and creative arts.
As part of the merger, the group plans to launch a new arm called RNN Training. This will be focused upon meeting the needs of employers in Bassetlaw and Rotherham and more widely in the Sheffield City Region and East Midlands through recruiting school leavers into apprenticeships and delivering high level skills training to employees.
John Connolly, chief executive of RNN Group, said:“This is a vital time for the area, with business growth and economic renewal to be secured.
“The RNN Group will develop further the work of the two colleges to support employers develop the skilled workforce they need, and provide the link so that local people get the training they need to step confidently into career opportunities, bringing benefit to our local communities.”
Phil Sayles, deputy principal of RNN Group said:“As well as a real willingness to listen and respond to business needs, up-to-date training facilities and industry-qualified staff, RNN Training can connect businesses with many of the 5,000 16-18 year-olds and adults who study in the North Notts and Rotherham Colleges every year developing excellent skills We will help businesses in our area move forward.”
A second major area of development will be a rapid growth in degrees and other higher education courses offered at North Notts College, the Retford Post-16 Centre and in Rotherham, at Rotherham College and then at the proposed new Higher Education Centre on Doncaster Gate in Rotherham.
Assistant principal for higher education, Ann Hardy, said: “More higher education opportunities are essential for our local economy.
“Our courses, validated by major universities, are delivered locally, enabling people to combine study and advancing their professional careers with work and family responsibilities.
“Higher education and higher level skill courses will also help employers develop their staff so their businesses can be more effective and successful.”
The RNN Group also includes the National Fluid Power Centre, based in Worksop, which specialises in hydraulics, pneumatics and control systems, and works with 300 businesses globally.
Also on board are national training providers Create Skills, located in Manvers, Rotherham, Charnwood Training, based in Nottinghamshire, and Aston Recruitment and Training of Northampton.
At the two major local colleges, Rotherham and North Notts, both rated as ‘Good’ by Ofsted, it is very much business as usual, though vice principal Paul Baylis wants more school leavers to consider whether college would be a good path for them.
Mr Baylis said: “We recruit over a thousand new school leavers a year who learn great skills with us and then progress to jobs, university, into apprenticeships and to our own higher education offer.
“However, there are still a lot of young people who don’t get to hear much about the opportunities our colleges can offer and don’t join us until age seventeen or later. After that, they get firmly on track.”
“They learn in great facilities, are taught by well-qualified, caring, staff with business experience and take robust qualifications which are held in high esteem by employers and universities.
“Our students do work experience, have lots of contact with employers and the world beyond college, go on course-related trips and meet inspiring people, which all boost their confidence and make them ready for the next step.”
“Working together under RNN Group will be great news for both colleges – we’ll have resources to develop what we offer even further and create new opportunities. Studying at college is a smart choice.”
NWGU-12-02-16 north notts college: North Notts College, based on Carlton Road
NWGU-12-02-16: John Connolly, centre, the chief executive of the RNN Group, cuts the celebration cake to mark the merger of Worksop’s North Notts College and Rotherham College, with vice-chairman Atholl Stott, left and the chairman of Governors, Ken Barrass, right
nwgu north notts college 2: Senior staff at North Notts and Rotherham Colleges, join to mark their merger at the Carlton Road site in Worksop on Monday.
nwgu north notts college 3: Senior staff at North Notts and Rotherham Colleges, join to mark their merger at the Carlton Road site in Worksop on Monday.