Walsall College has seen a large rise in applications for its business and sports courses since opening its £11m Hub.
The college has seen a 21% increase in students applying for its business courses and a 14% surge for sports courses starting in September 2016, in comparison to applications received for the same period during the last year academic year (2014/15).
The college’s business and sports Hub, which opened in September, features a range of state-of-the-art facilities available to students as well as the general public looking to get engage in physical activity. These include a multi-purpose sports hall, dance and fitness studios, gym, spa, sports training and injury clinic. There is also a business incubation centre for start-up businesses and the college runs a Connect programme from The Hub, which supports budding entrepreneurs in Walsall as well as students to gain the skills and confidence they need to set up and run their own successful businesses.
Principal and Chief Executive at Walsall College, Jatinder Sharma OBE, said: “From the onset our vision behind the Hub has been to support our local business and sport sectors to plug the skills gaps linked to their growth, so I am delighted our new venue has sparked a greater interest in students wanting to study courses related to these areas, which are vital to our local economy.”
Both sectors are also showing positive signs of growth, with forecast data indicating employment is expected to rise by 4.4% and 9.8% for business and sport related industries, respectively, across the West Midlands between now and 2022*.
Head of Curriculum for Sport at Walsall College, Amanda Richards, says: “The increasing focus being placed on the long-term health benefits of physical exercise is driving up the need for more professionals with sport related qualifications to fill the growing job opportunities.
“The new facilities in The Hub have enabled us to add more sport related courses to the curriculum including sports massage and sports science courses. We have also introduced new university level courses in coaching and sports development to progress students’ skills in line with current industry requirements and put them on track to successful careers in the sector.”
Former Walsall College Sport student, Christine Molina, who is now working as a fitness instructor at the De Vere Village Hotel gym in Walsall, said: “The experience and confidence I gained at college helped me to start my career. I really enjoy my job and helping people to improve their health and fitness levels.”
Head of Curriculum for Business at Walsall College, Jeremy Bridgman, comments: “Studying business enables students to develop the commercial awareness required to succeed in the corporate world, where the career opportunities are both wide ranging and very rewarding. With the launch of The Hub, we have been able to develop our partnerships with employers even further and, in turn, provide greater opportunities for our students to gain real insights into the business sector, either through work experience opportunities or career talks with industry professionals.
He said: “Our courses also provide a great stepping stone for students wanting to progress to degree level, whether that’s continuing at Walsall College or at university.”
Former Walsall College Business Management student, Katie Farman gained a broad range of business skills at college which helped her to secure a place at the University of Birmingham, one of the best universities in the country. Currently in the final year of her Business Management degree, Katie has already secured a graduate role in management with leading supermarket chain, Lidl, at its regional head office.
She said: “I was given so many opportunities during my time at college to gain real life industry skills, which I feel gave me a head start at university, but ultimately it’s got my career in management off the ground. Knowing that I have secured a job after I finish my degree is a huge boost and proves that all the hard work I’ve put in has been worth it.”
Joshua Dowen, a former Walsall College Business and Accountancy student, was snapped up by top accounting firm, KPMG, on their degree level apprenticeship training scheme. He initially stayed on at sixth form to do A-levels and says: “I felt I didn’t receive the right level of help and support during my first year at sixth form so decided to enrol on an accountancy-based course at Walsall College, where the atmosphere was a lot more welcoming. There were also so many more opportunities to gain extra additional qualifications such as Sage accounts which is something employers value highly.”
There are still places available on Walsall College’s Business and Sports courses. To find out more or to apply, visit http://www.walsallcollege.ac.uk or attend the open day on Thursday 17th March, 4pm – 7pm.