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Seven further education colleges in the West Midlands have formally established the Black Country Colleges (BCC) Group, and officially aligned their shared focus of delivering high quality education that produces the skills provision to ensure continued economic growth in the region.

The BCC Group comprises the City of Wolverhampton College, Dudley College, Halesowen College, King Edward VI College, Sandwell College and Walsall College, who are all rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted, and with BMet Stourbridge as an associate partner.

The Group already has a successful history of working together on a number of projects, including delivering £5m worth of free training to Black Country businesses under an initiative from the European Social Fund (ESF), which supported small and medium sized employers with industry specific courses and literacy and numeracy skills for their staff. They also came together to deliver a series of regional ‘Skills Show Experience’ events to champion vocational skills, which was also funded by the ESF.

In continuation of this partnership, the Group has developed a detailed high-level plan outlining how it aims to achieve its strategic ambitions and create sustainable growth by 2020, to transform the lives of the individuals and the communities it serves by helping more young people and adults in the Black Country to gain the skills and qualifications required by employers.

This plan includes the colleges working together to raise the status of vocational education, shared continuing professional development activities, putting in joint bids for funded projects and increasing their collaboration with local employers to ensure a continued relevant and responsive curriculum offer is created, which will meet the current and future needs of the labour market.

A spokesperson for the members of The BCC group commented: “We are all in strong agreement that by working in unison we can deliver excellence in our services and have a greater impact on the prosperity of the Black Country, for the benefit of both individuals and businesses.

“We all work very closely with our local councils and Black County Local Enterprise Partnership board, so know the priorities in our areas and we will be working together to develop tailored solutions for each of our communities.

“With this concerted and innovative approach, we can ensure a continued focus on improving the quality of services we offer to our learners and communities who are at the centre of everything we do.”