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Borders Technology Enhanced Care Hub  

This case study forms part of the Care and Health Career Academy toolkit which provides guidance for those who want to establish their own career academy. It was commissioned by the North West Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (NWADASS) and the Local Government Association (LGA).

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Introduction

Borders College is a further education institution in the Scottish Borders, Scotland. The college was founded in 1984, by the merger of four pre-existing institutions: the Agricultural Centre at Newtown St. Boswells, Duns Agricultural Centre, Galashiels Technical College, and Henderson Technical College.  

Borders College offers a wide range of courses, from an introductory level through to advanced courses at Higher National level, including the full range of apprenticeships courses, from modern apprenticeships to foundation apprenticeships. It also provides a large number of industry-based training courses for businesses throughout Scotland.  

The main campuses are supported by a number of community-based learning facilities throughout the Borders, including a campus in Hawick. These offer specific courses designed to meet the needs of local businesses, including health and social care, and their workforce development, and also provide educational opportunities to individuals.  

Context

The south of Scotland, a predominantly rural area, faces a range of issues that impact its economy. These issues include  

  • an ageing population 
  • young people from the area pursuing their futures away from the southern part of Scotland 
  • challenging geography that impacts on infrastructure including digital connectivity and transport  
  • low GDP per-head with low productivity 
  • sectors with traditionally low wages and fewer higher skilled jobs with a business base dominated by micro and small businesses.  

As a consequence of this context, the South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership (SoSEP), invested significant funds in the regions further education colleges to improve the skills and employability levels of the local population.  

The Galashiels Campus of Border College has used this to provide a unique learning and teaching environment featuring bespoke practical training areas, aimed at supporting learning in the health and care sectors. This was called the Borders Health and Care Career Academy; this has been recently renamed the Borders Technology Enhanced Care Hub (BTECH).  

This facility provides courses in health and social care from SCQF Level 4 (L2 equivalent) up to SCQF Level 8 (L4/5 equivalent). The hub also delivers professional development courses for individuals and to providers specifications. Students are either recruited through their employer as part of their on the job training (upskilling) or as individuals who wish to enter the sector (pipeline). The college also delivers the first year of nurse training as a partnership with Edinburgh Napier University.  

Partnerships

The career hub sits within the Borders College governance system but has strong (informal) partnerships with the following organisations:  

  • Scottish Border Cares (provider arm of the Scottish Borders Local authority  
  • NHS Borders  
  • Scottish Borders Local Authority  

In addition, as a consequence of the SoSEP project, the college has links to Dumfries and Galloway College and in the near future will share a virtual learning platform with them. This partnership will ensure that the economic/workforce needs of the region will be delivered in a coordinated and consistent way.  

Purpose

Borders College identified as their purpose:

  • Supporting recruitment into the health and care sector  
  • Supporting health and care providers to retain high quality staff  
  • Upskilling staff working in the health and care sector  
  • Increasing the use of technology both within the learning environment and in the workplace.  

What makes the hub work?

Factors that have contributed to the success of the organisation are:

  • funding from SoSEP to develop the learning environment in line with real work situations  
  • strong and longstanding partnerships  
  • networks with local communities and stakeholders  
  • understanding the context of the local area and knowing people who can make things happen  
  • understanding and having access to skills funding and using it innovatively to meet employer and learner need  
  • personalities of partner representatives and a ‘can do will do’ attitude  
  • highly skilled, industry experts with up to date knowledge and expertise delivering learning.

What are the challenges?

  • Factors that have been identified as challenges are: 
  • Lack of project management  
  • Questions over the availability of further development funding.

Impact

  • Improved teaching and learning facilities, more embedded in the reality of the world of the health and social care sector  
  • Learners are positive and trust that the teaching team are experts in the sector  
  • Providers are impressed with the learning environment and trust that the graduates are fit for purpose.