University wins multiple awards for employability partnerships and sustainability

Birmingham City University is celebrating after winning two awards for its commitment to employability and sustainability at the AGCAS Awards for Excellence, a national awards ceremony highlighting good practice in higher education.

Posted 23 June 2022

The University is celebrating after clinching two awards at the AGCAS Awards for Excellence.

Recognition for building effective partnerships

Celebrations began when the University won the Building Effective Partnerships award, which looked for programmes/projects that showcased effective collaboration and partnership, demonstrable innovation and creating positive outcomes for the stakeholders involved.

BCU clinched the award thanks to its Graduate Re-Tune project, which supports local unemployed and underemployed graduates to secure graduate-level work placements and jobs.

Graduate Re-Tune - funded by the Office for Students - bridges the gap between the employability and skills support offered by universities and the ‘mainstream’ employment and skills offer from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). 

Delivered in partnership with Aston University and DWP’s Birmingham and Solihull Jobcentre Plus District, Graduate Re-Tune is currently the only formal partnership between two universities and the DWP.

Since launching, the project has helped 414 graduates secure full-time employment, 106 gain job placements and 46 take up courses of further study.

Thanks to Graduate Re-Tune’s success, BCU is also a Gateway Provider for the Government’s Kickstart scheme, working with West Midlands Police to provide employment opportunities for graduates.

Celebrating positive sustainability impact 

The AGCAS Awards for Excellence got even better for the University, with the institution going on to clinch the Sustainability Impact award.

In order to win, entrants needed to demonstrate achieving significant sustainability-related outcomes using methods such as collaboration, changing practices or identifying new opportunities.

BCU proved victorious thanks to its Higher Level Skills Match (HLSM) project. Part-funded by the European Social Fund, HLSM is BCU’s account-managed recruitment and upskilling service.

HLSM is a partnership between BCU, Aston University, Newman University, Tamworth Borough Council and Lichfield District Council.  

HLSM won the award thanks to its Sustainability Implementation Action Plan, devised in order to assess how the team can reduce its carbon footprint and waste. This included:

  • Reducing CO2 emissions by continuing to hold large meetings via virtual platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom
  • Providing workshop delegates with reusable materials such as stainless-steel bottles
  • Repurposing material bought for project purposes, for example donating old cotton tote bags to the Fashion and Textiles School for students to use the material.

Embracing a digital form has perhaps created the biggest impact. 

The change has simplified the sign-up mechanism, allowing for a more time efficient process gives more opportunity to have meaningful discussions with prospective businesses.

“The introduction of a digital form is a welcomed change. It has enabled us to speed up the process of signing up, allowing for more time to focus on what the business needs, and remain flexible to meet varying demands of today's climate," says Nicole Riley, Graduate Talent Consultant at BCU. 

Embracing digital platforms reduced travel time and paperwork, with digital versions of previously-printed leaflets and posters also making a positive difference.

Printing has been reduced a whopping 100 percent, with hybrid workshops also now a permanent aspect of the programme.  

Recognition for graduate and sustainability support

The AGCAS Awards for Excellence are an annual celebration of good practice among HE careers and employability practitioners.

Being recognised nationally for BCU’s commitment to supporting local graduates, employers and sustainability impacts is a huge step forward in the institution’s drive to become the University for Birmingham, transforming the region with world-class support.

“This award recognises both the incredible work of the entire team and the need for establishing a UK-wide Graduate Re-Tune service to help support our graduates,” says Sandeep Solanki, Programme Manager for the project.

“HLSM’s collaboration with teams across the university and wider partnership has ensured we deliver on all aspects of our sustainability action plan,” says Lucia Puricelli, Programme Manager for HLSM.

“We are extremely grateful to have won this award and look forward to continuously finding new ways to innovate so we can offer quality provision for our businesses in the most sustainable way possible.

It has been a successful few months for Birmingham City University in terms of recognition, with the institution recently winning the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion accolade at the Signature Awards 2022.

Furthermore, two BCU alumni and HLSM clients recently picked up awards for their businesses at the National StartUp Awards.

Logos for HLSM, Graduate Re-Tune, European Social Fund and Office for Students.

Logos for HLSM, Graduate Re-Tune, European Social Fund and Office for Students