Hundreds of businesses and many thousands of learners across the South Wales valleys are set to benefit from the creation of a new super college, which was formally launched by First Minister Carwyn Jones on 11 September.
In formally marking the creation of Coleg y Cymoedd, the First Minister emphasised the need for even closer working relationships between further education institutions and industry for the benefit of the Welsh economy.
The college, which has been created from the merger of Coleg Morgannwg and The College Ystrad Mynach, will serve more than 25,000 students drawn from Wales’ traditional industrial heartland in the boroughs of Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taff and surrounding areas. Many of the students are apprentices and trainees from a wide variety of businesses across the valleys and the college also provides the largest choice of A levels on one site to over 600 learners.
The First Minister delivered his message to a gathering of senior business people and educationalists at the Vale Hotel, Hensol.
The event marked the merger of the two colleges into Coleg y Cymoedd, which became a legal entity on 1 August.
With an annual turnover of more than £42 million, Coleg y Cymoedd will have 1,000 staff working across five campuses - Aberdare, Nantgarw, Rhondda, Rhymney and Ystrad Mynach. The merged college has had significant capital investment in the last five years including £9m at the Ystrad Mynach campus and a newly-built Nantgarw campus, costing £40 million, which opened in September 2012.
The merger is designed to give students the benefit of shared expertise and ultra-modern facilities, some of these developed in collaboration with flagship businesses in the area. All educational provision across Coleg y Cymoedd’s five campuses will remain available from September 2013, providing one of the widest ranges of subject choices in Wales for learners.
The First Minister was joined by leading business figures from across south Wales who provide invaluable support for the college’s work in strengthening its communities and Wales’ wider economy through providing state-of-the-art facilities and training.
Emma Watkins, chief executive of CBI Wales, also spoke at the event about the importance of further education colleges not only cultivating close relationships with businesses but more importantly linking with the needs of Welsh employers.
Fruitful partnerships have been formed with many companies across the region including GE Aviation Wales, BAMCE and Axiom Manufacturing Services. Pioneering science apprenticeships have also been developed with Biocatalysts Ltd in partnership with Cogent.
The First Minister said: “The creation of Coleg y Cymoedd will strengthen the South East Wales valleys by providing excellent education, skills and training and represents a clear commitment to the future of the region and its learners. The combination of a clear vision, linked with hard work, has made the merger a reality and I wish the learners, staff and governors every success.”
Judith Evans, principal and chief executive of Coleg y Cymoedd said: “We celebrate the coming together of two great institutions, which combined under a shared goal of supporting our communities, will transform the way further education is delivered in south Wales.
“We recognise the importance of strengthening the valleys through excellent education, skills and training. The creation of Coleg y Cymoedd provides every learner with better opportunities to dictate their own educational and career paths – be it through preparing for higher education, employment, creating their own businesses, finding opportunities for re-training or up-skilling.
“Our innovative partnerships with local SMEs, multinational companies and industry bodies will continue to develop to facilitate the growth of south Wales’ economy and labour markets through the provision of expert training which lead to real jobs in Wales.”