The Harrogate College column with Debra Forsythe-Conroy

The Bistro on the Park, a client facing model, allows the students skills to shine.
The Bistro on the Park, a client facing model, allows the students skills to shine.

A college is like any other business and its students are ‘’customers”. They provide the income and the organisation provides the service. Like any competitive sector a college needs to be responsive to trends, what is it the customers want and how can the needs best be met.

The difference between a college and many other businesses is that the product for sale is not necessarily a material purchase but more an experience; this experience can be truly enriching and lead on to other exciting opportunities.

Harrogate College is therefore unique to our community; embedded in the local market and working with businesses, partners and customers alike to create an experience that keeps the customer coming back for more!

We offer a range of courses and continually adapt the offer to ensure currency and relevance to employer needs, this is demonstrated particularly by our hospitality department.

The teaching team consists of experienced professionals who remain employed in the industry, this means that not only is the students learning culinary and service skills they also benefiting from the most current and up to date employability skills. This is reflected in the links with the local employers, from small independent providers to large scale hotel operators, links which are used to promote not only work experience for our students but also support our practice providing the hospitality workforce of the future with the skills they need.

One of the most exciting elements of the hospitality courses at the college is the ‘Bistro on the Park’.

This is the training restaurant based on the ground floor ‘high street’ part of the college, which allows us to showcase the student’s skills to the general public, with our best successes coming from our monthly themed events.

This client facing model is seen across the college, though perhaps not as visible as the hospitality department, for example the arts team have absolute top of the range facilities complemented with crafts that are not only fascinating but also highly desirable in the competitive industries not to mention the talented experienced staff who are also an amazing resource, each of them with impressive industry based expertise.

With courses that range from classic ‘photography’ to ‘media make up’, providing students a relatively unique and bespoke tuition that can be really learner centred and ensure the best experience possible.

If ever there was a time to be excited by education it is now, competition drives innovation and our teams are constantly looking at what we need to be offering for the future to ensure we are equipping the industries that fuel us with the skills they need to succeed.

A perfect example of this is our higher education offering in ‘cosmetics aesthetics’, a course that is really on the cutting edge of the beauty industry with a scientific focus on anti-aging treatments and we are also the provider of this course in the country.

The new academic year for the college is already taking shape and the recognises the need for a local higher education, we are already offering and creating degree level courses that will appeal to not just the typical student but people who are looking to retrain, step back in to work or indeed just explore a craft, a skill or leisure interest.

Want to know more, come and talk to us!