Making Your Business Our Business

Ayrshire College is serious about employer engagement.

Our portfolio of vocational qualifications is aligned to the needs of industry sectors important to Ayrshire and we play a critical role in the success of the region’s economy.

By increasing the number of businesses we work with, we increase the number of opportunities for apprenticeships each year, the volume of employment opportunities for students and jobseekers, and the range and uptake of training courses delivered to industry.

A New Conversation, published by UKCES in 2014, summarised the necessary ingredients for effective engagement between colleges and employers.

  • First, it recommended that we need to agree that the primary purpose of a college is to contribute to its economic community. We do.
  • Second, it argued that college leaders need to develop new types of skills to succeed in strategic partnerships with employers. We have.
  • Third, it stressed that we need to be aware that the credibility of colleges with employers is tied up with what they offer. We agree.
  • Finally, employers need to get to know their local college and what it has to offer. Thousands of employers in Ayrshire have already done this.

How we engage with employers 

Our Making Your Business Our Business employer engagement strategy illustrates how we support employers. This interactive document includes video interviews with businesses, links to key strategies and blog posts. The goals in the strategy describe how we will:

  • Ensure our portfolio of courses is relevant and aligned to business needs
  • Increase the number of businesses we work with
  • Increase the number of Modern Apprentice new starts annually
  • Increase job opportunities for students and job seekers
  • Increase the range and uptake of training courses delivered to employers

By achieving these goals, we will help raise aspirations, inspire achievement and increase opportunities for Ayrshire’s businesses and communities.

A deal for a deal

Our offer to employers is that we will make your business our business by:

  • Providing the right skills at the right time to help grow your company
  • Involving you in evaluating our current courses and shaping our future provision
  • Offering industry relevant courses delivered in environments reflective of your sector
  • Helping with workforce planning for current and future skills needs
  • Offering apprenticeships to develop your employees
  • Helping you to recruit the right people.

In return, our ask of employers is that you make our business your business by:

  • Taking part in our evaluation and curriculum planning processes
  • Offering work placements, volunteering opportunities and project work for our students
  • Attending our careers events to raise awareness of your industry amongst students
  • Sponsoring the college by donating equipment and rewarding student excellence
  • Helping us tackle gender stereotyping in career choices.

How we engage with employers

All senior staff and curriculum leaders at Ayrshire College are responsible for engaging
with the local business community. To identify skills needs at a regional level, the College works with the Ayrshire Economic Partnership, with employer organisations such as the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, and industry sector-specific organisations like the Ayrshire Engineering Alliance and Taste Ayrshire.

The college also supports the economy and skills boards of the three local authorities in the region, working with business growth advisers to support the skills needs of existing and new companies as well as those seeking to locate to Ayrshire.

How employers shape our curriculum 

Intelligence gained from our extensive engagement with employers and business organisations in Ayrshire, combined with analysis presented in the Skills Assessment for Ayrshire and Skills Investment Plans for various industry sectors, shape the college’s curriculum delivery plan each year.

Excellent external engagement with employers, industry bodies and community organisations influences course design, and creates opportunities for students and for validating college provision.

Opportunities for developments and validation at an industry sector level are taken forward at a range of college-led employer skills forums in areas such as aerospace, science and engineering. These forums comprise employers, college managers, sector skills councils, national skills and economic agencies, and local authorities.

Education Scotland, the national agency responsible for quality assurance in further education, said of Ayrshire College’s engagement with employers:

“Employer forums and strong employer engagement across the engineering areas provides strong intelligence to inform programme planning and delivery. The College responds promptly to feedback from employers where programmes don’t exactly match their requirements, and generally provide solutions. Effective, regular communication with employers based on mutual respect and a strong commitment to employer engagement allows the college to share plans”

If you would like to talk to us about our support for employers, please contact Stuart Millar, Director of Business Development at


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