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Hugh Baird College host Lord Baker and Prue Leith

The students of Liverpool’s only Career College for 14-19 year olds were visited today by former Education Secretary and Career College Trustee Lord Kenneth Baker and restaurateur, caterer, television presenter/broadcaster, journalist and cookery writer Prue Leith CBE.

The Career College is based at Hugh Baird College and focuses on delivering specialist training for the hospitality and catering industry. In 2014, the Career Colleges Trust granted a licence for Hugh Baird to become the first college in the UK to house a Career College as part of its wider college offering.

Launched by Lord Baker himself, Career Colleges are a new innovation in employer-led education. The college has strong support from local industry which is part of a drive to support the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership’s Visitor Economy, which is a key strategic growth area for city.

Each Career College is supported by employers, who help design and deliver the curriculum. Alongside rigorous academic teaching in maths, English and other core subjects, Career Colleges offer ‘real-world’ challenges, coupled with work experience – enabling students to develop their wider employability skills.

Over the course of the visit, Lord Baker and Miss Leith met with the employers such as general manager of the Malmaison Hotel in Liverpool Garry Fortune, Recruitment & Retention Manager at Liverpool FC Emma Hulme and Ann Meek of Liverpool tour operators City Explorer who are all involved in curriculum development at the Career College.

The group then spent time with students, some as young as fourteen, who shared with Lord Baker and Miss Leith their experiences since arriving at Hugh Baird’s unique Hospitality and Visitor Economy Career College. The visitors were also treated to a tour of Liverpool on an open top bus, with commentary provided by some of the students studying the Visitor Economy course at the Career College at Hugh Baird.

During his visit, Lord Baker said:

I am absolutely delighted to be here today to see for myself such a successful Career College in action. The opportunities being offered to students here are exceptional and really demonstrate the employer-led education that I am so passionate about. I wish all the students here every success in their future career and would urge other colleges to follow Hugh Baird’s lead in establishing such a pioneering vocational offer for 14-19 year olds.

Prue Leith CBE added:

I have always felt that there has not been enough emphasis on providing young people with the practical skills they need to prepare them for a career in the hospitality industry. Here at Hugh Baird, students are getting real life industry experience at a young age, which is fantastic news for both them and indeed for the future of the industry. I am hugely impressed with the very talented students I have met today and it’s fantastic to see them being provided with such hands-on teaching. We are all aware of the huge skills gap our industry is facing and Hugh Baird’s Career College is a perfect example of how we can help tackle this.

First year level 2 Culinary Skills student Grace Clarke said:

I looked at a range of different colleges before I chose the Career College here at Hugh Baird, and I know made the right choice. Since I arrived here, I have worked with so many great chefs from around the country. People who have Michelin stars to their names like Kenny Atkinson, Nigel Haworth, Matt Worswick from Thornton Hall on the Wirral and Simon Radley from the Grosvenor Chester.

Ben Armstrong, who is also a student on the Culinary Skills course added:

The highlight for me was going to Barcelona to find out about food and culture in the Catalan region of Spain. It was amazing to hear chefs speaking so passionately about their local produce.

Megan Tams, who is one a number of fourteen year old students at the Career College said:

I left my school because I knew that my future was working in a restaurant kitchen and I just wanted to get started on developing my skills as soon as I could. Coming to the Career College has been awesome. I have worked with some great chefs and I have taken part in events where people have been paying to eat food I’ve helped make. This made me feel amazing and has really given me the feeling that I can make it in the industry!

Hugh Baird College Principal and Chief Executive Yana Williams said:

We want to offer educational choices to young people in Sefton and across the Liverpool City Region that equip them with life skills and prepare them for work while also ensuring they have a sound academic grounding. The Visitor Economy has been identified by the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as a key growth area with a range of employment opportunities for our learners. By focussing our Career College on hospitality and the Visitor Economy, we are confident that we will help to ensure that employers’ needs are fulfilled in future years with highly skilled, work ready individuals with a clear understanding of the sector and employer expectations.

It was an honour to welcome Lord Baker and Prue Leith to our College today. It was a pleasure to show them just how far our students have come since they joined the Career College here at Hugh Baird. Their development is not only testament to their hard work and dedication, but they owe a lot to the staff who work tirelessly to ensure they have access to the most outstanding ‘money can’t buy’ experiences such as working alongside Michelin starred chefs.

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