February 9, 2022

An Interview with David Wilkins

An Interview with David Wilkins from The Bedford College Group

Bedford College and is the leading General FE Training provider in the area, which delivers various sector skills to learners of all ages. Significant events include the merger with Shuttleworth Agricultural College in 2009, the development of Bedford Sixth Form in 2014 and merger with Northamptonshire based Tresham College in 2017, to form The Bedford College Group.

Primarily the college delivers training to most sector areas. In my directorate, we deliver Construction & Building Services training, Study Programmes, Apprenticeships and Higher Education to local (and further afield) individuals of all ages, and employers. However, at The Bedford College Group, we like to keep at the forefront of the sectors we are training for. For this industry, we have recently engaged quite heavily in space and equipment to respond to the emerging needs for training in Modern Methods of Construction, and Offsite Construction Manufacturing, and in addition the digital skills surrounding this. While we move toward new technology, it’s important to continue to train traditional trades, who are still very much in demand locally and nationally.

My role as Director of Construction & Building services within the Bedford College group is to ensure that we keep in tandem with the needs of the industry for now and in the future, and I participate in various local, regional and national conversations to ensure that our offer remains current. Most crucially, I work to link with employers, suppliers and manufacturers to integrate all of their skills and knowledge into the curriculum we deliver – this means we endeavour to make the learning experience of all our learners wholesome, valuable and appropriate for their progression to further study or employment.

I left school not specifically knowing what I wanted to do. However, I knew from some of the studies that I undertook in high school that my manual dexterity was quite good, as well as having the sort of practical thought process that would work well within the construction industry. So after an interview and test with the CITB at a youthful 16 years old (when I had hair), I became a Carpentry Apprentice working in and around my home town of Luton. Fortunately, I also spent some time with other trades people outside of Carpentry, so have also learnt various aspects of many other trades – this continues to be invaluable to this day.

The Construction industry has taught me that if you are good at what you do; are honest; hardworking and appreciate a team approach, you will have employment for life. You’ll also enjoy what you do, and be proud of the projects you have worked on. Latterly In my career as a Carpentry Lecturer, then Head of Department and now Director, the aforementioned qualities still remain strong and I have the added pleasure of passing these onto those seeking to enter the industry.

The Construction Industry is certainly in exciting times – there are such varied roles for everyone. The digitisation and also the merging of the industry ever more into manufacturing (off-site) means that the opportunities for the diversification of industry personnel is stronger than ever before!

David Wilkins
The Bedford College Group

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