If you’re struggling to recruit the right staff, you really need to read this


Date: 3rd April 2024

Research from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) shows that finding the right people with the right skills to do the jobs Britain needs is one of the toughest problems facing business today. The BCC’s most recent Quarterly Recruitment Outlook report found that more than three-quarters of companies struggle to fill their vacancies.

A group of Further Education (FE) Colleges has joined together under the banner of Colleges of the South East Midlands to try to help to turn the tide to make it easier to recruit.

Employers often don’t appreciate the incredibly wide array of training that is available, so the colleges (Barnfield, Milton Keynes, Moulton, Northampton and The Bedford College Group) have launched a joint campaign to promote the help they can offer.

There are many excellent courses and programmes already available, but one of the most important things businesses need to know is that in many cases, colleges can provide bespoke courses, specifically tailored to an individual company’s needs.

Training comes in many forms, but here are some of the most popular available routes:

Certificates and Diplomas

Certificates and diplomas are offered at a number of different levels and offer the opportunity to train in very specific areas like carpentry, plumbing, health & social care and creative subjects. Unlike most schools, colleges have specific facilities for many of these subjects whereby practical skills can be practised and honed in realistic situations.

Professional Qualifications

Colleges offer a host of different professional qualifications across a range of business disciplines. Many of these are ideal for businesses that want to increase the skill level of highly prized members of staff in areas like, for example, accountancy, leadership and management or human resources. Generally part-time courses, these are accredited by independent professional bodies.

A Levels

Not all A Levels are done at school. Colleges often provide a mix of traditional subjects alongside ones like Law, Business or Environmental Science that are of value to many employers, and we’re always on the lookout for work experience opportunities for our students.

T Levels

T Levels are the technical equivalent of A Levels. That is to say they are as rigorous to study and are designed to be of the same value when it comes to university applications. In some ways, T Levels are like a mix between A Levels and apprenticeships. 80% of the two year course is spent at college while the remaining 20% involves an industry placement. A business taking on a T Level student for their placement gets the first look at an individual who might be the perfect addition to their workforce. The curriculum has been shaped by industry experts to ensure students learn practical, applicable, real-world skills and knowledge. T Levels cover a multitude of subject areas from agriculture and forestry through digital and laboratory sciences to construction and sport.


Apprenticeships have a history going back many hundreds of years. Today, they are a blend of two main elements, learning in a college classroom or workshop and learning in the workplace with an employer. One of the main reasons that they’re appealing for people signing up to them is that they can earn while they learn. From an employer’s point-of-view, they have that extra pair of hands ready to work from the very start. They will not just be taught the theory behind how your business works but also discover your way of doing things in the real world. Not all apprentices are school leavers. Many adults take up apprenticeships in later life and they’re available right up to degree level.


Principal and CEO of Moulton College, Corrie Harris, says “As colleges we’re set up to meet the needs of business in a unique way. Any employer can come to us to explain what they need, and if we don’t already have something that precisely suits their requirements, we can sit down together to work out what will help them fill that gap in the workforce. It’s just a matter of picking up the phone or dropping us an email and we can start the conversation around who they want and what they need to know.”

To make it even easier, the five colleges have launched a joint web portal, so that employers don’t need to go searching for themselves to find the right people to speak to. Instead, they can visit a one-stop shop at www.deliveringskills.co.uk that will connect them directly with the right college.