A new furniture pathway in Ceredigion

The Future of Work-Based Learning Programmes Looks Creative

Coleg Ceredigion and the GWLAD project, both as part of the UWTSD group are delivering the first higher education work-based learning furniture design programme in Wales, which could hopefully lead the way and influence other programmes for the future.

As the only provider of Furniture Design course in Wales, Coleg Ceredigion saw a much-needed opportunity to provide a progression route from their current course for new, existing and previous learners. Chloe Reynolds from Coleg Ceredigion explained “A lot of our learners intend to, or have gone on to, become self-employed. Providing a course that could help new businesses in West Wales flourish seemed like the natural way to go.” In response to this, Coleg Ceredigion and the GWLAD project under the Wales Institute for Work-based Learning (WIWBL) have created the first higher education work-based learning course for learners focussing on furniture design and running a business.

Cynyr Ifan from GWLAD has been involved in designing and implementing this Foundation Degree course that will take 2 years to complete. Cynyr explained “There is a strong focus on practical learning where learners will be encouraged and supported to develop their skills in design. Certain modules are also included in the course, such as ‘Digital Marketing’ and ‘Introduction to Finance’ which will assist the individual in running their own business, or can be used in other areas of employment.”

With access to a fully equipped workshop at Coleg Ceredigion, learners will have time to develop their products and improve their designs. This is something they may not have been able to afford or have access to in the workplace. Further collaboration occurred with School of Design and Applied Arts at UWTSD to combine the practical modules that aim to develop furniture products in new and innovative ways.

Today, many small businesses are able to reach a global market with a good online presence; with this in mind ‘Digital Marketing’ has been embedded into the programme to maximise their skills and business potential. Managing finance is a worry for many small business owners, however, there is no escaping this factor. To ease the burden of finance, an ‘Introduction to Finance’ module will provide the knowledge needed to understand, create and implement financial statements. Altogether, learners will also have the opportunity to develop key business skills that will enable them to progress their own ventures safely and effectively. Coleg Ceredigion has also agreed for these modules to be made available for other businesses in the surrounding area to study.

The Foundation Degree in Professional Practice focussing on Furniture Design has provided the opportunity for learners to be able to access higher education learning in the Cardigan area and avoid long distance travel. This provides aspiring business people in furniture design with the skills and knowledge to run their own business and continue working in West Wales. Learners will also benefit from gaining access to the UWTSD student resources such as the on-line library, I.T. and various communication interfaces.

This programme has been running since the start of October, with six people successfully enrolled.

Coleg Ceredigion has been integrated into the UWTSD group and more recently the town of Cardigan celebrated its status as a University town. GWLAD, a project led by WIWBL and supported by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government provides up to 70% funding for businesses to engage in higher education work-based learning programmes.

This exciting development is considered a foundation for further future developments of higher education provision across South West Wales, encouraging learners to engage in higher education in their field of expertise. WIWBL have been successfully delivering and creating bespoke work-based learning programmes since 2009 with their team of industry experienced tutors, creating bespoke programmes to meet business needs. This can be tailored to meet the needs of other similar industries. Contact the GWLAD team for further information.

www.uwtsd.ac.uk/gwlad

gwlad@uwtsd.ac.uk

01267 225167