Government Minister makes ‘virtual visit’ to Burnley College

A Government Minister at the heart of the Department for Education paid a ‘virtual visit’ to Burnley College last week to talk to its highly-skilled Themis Apprentices, their industry-expert Tutors and Trainers and to view just some of the amazing facilities in its £100 million town centre Campus.

Gillian Keegan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, checked in from her offices in Westminster for the virtual visit, in which she discussed the impact of Covid-19 on the training sector and how Themis’s close links with employers are vital to secure the North West’s future business prosperity.

The visit, hosted by Principal Karen Buchanan, Deputy Principal Simon Jordan and Director of Themis Neil Burrows, spotlighted how Themis and the wider College community has adapted over the past three months, including:

  • How training, teaching and learning has continued throughout the Covid-19 lockdown period and beyond.
  • How intense planning and adherence to Government recommendations has enabled Themis to once again open its doors.
  • The launch of Themis’s innovative Pre-Apprenticeship programme.
  • Increased communication and liaison between Themis and employers.
  • How Themis Apprentices have been at the very forefront of the national response to Covid-19.
  • How the Themis and Burnley College family has united over lockdown and beyond to offer the kindness, understanding and support needed – alongside a plethora of digital resources – to each individual member. caught up with the minister after her visit:

“It was wonderful to virtually visit Burnley College, who are leading the way in making sure people across the region gain the skills they need to succeed – with access to outstanding teachers and state of the art equipment, including 3D printers and drones, and their close ties to leading local employers.

“I met many inspiring and fantastic apprentices, some of whom have won national and local awards, and are working in a range of exciting industries including advanced manufacturing, engineering, healthcare, horticulture and the performing arts.

“I wish them all the best and look forward to be able to visit the college in person in the future. Young people in the area are really lucky to have such a great resource available to them.”

During the visit the Minister also:

  • Remotely guided one of the College’s 3D printers to create a portcullis-design coaster in the high-tech Industry 4.0 hub in its Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence
  • Met star of Sir Alan Sugar’s ‘The Apprentice’ Adam Corbally who has led regular successful motivational training sessions with students and Apprentices alike to enable them to recognise their amazing potential and inspire them to be their very best
  • Chatted with Degree Apprentices who are studying at the College’s UCB (University Courses Burnley) base
  • Met high-flying, award-winning Apprentices at all stages of their Apprenticeship journeys, their Tutors and Trainers, Employers and parents
  • Gained an insight into College’s state-of-the-art, industry-standard facilities and learnt of further investment plans. also spoke with “The Apprentice” finalist Adam Corbally in an exclusive interview:

“Burnley College have pulled it off again! I’ve worked with the college for about six years now and some of the events they have put on are unbelievable. To get a government minister speaking is absolutely fantastic and, for me, it is a breath of fresh air to meet a government minister who’s actually been an apprentice and therefore experienced it first-hand. Gillian did an apprenticeship and now she’s the apprenticeship minister – it makes perfect sense to connect her with the enthusiastic apprentices of Burnley!

“I think nowadays apprenticeships are absolutely the way forward. When I was at school, there weren’t that many options – but you can be an apprentice in pretty much anything now.”

Adam continued in full admiration for the College,

“The challenge is with education is engagement, how do we engage young people in to education? Well, the things that Burnley College go above-and-beyond to do in order to engage the young people of today is brilliant. Every time I’ve come in to the reception area, I’ve either been met with arcade machines, a total wipe-out course, a random flash mob, there’s not many colleges that go to them kind of extra lengths.

“Burnley as a town is an amazing community, and I undoubtedly think that the minister has gathered that impression from today. For Burnley businesses to employ Burnley grass-root apprentices is something quite special.”

Karen Buchanan said:

“We are immensely proud of everything our Themis Apprentices, their Tutors and Trainers have achieved – not just through the Covid-19 period but throughout the year – and it has been a privilege to showcase our amazing achievements and innovation to the Minister.

“It was a great opportunity for us to highlight how our role at the very heart of the business community in the North West is integral to the region’s economic recovery. How our position as a leading voice on advisory boards, in employer forums and networks and on round tables gives us the vital insights into the future training needs of employers. How we can shape our Apprenticeship training and business skills training to dovetail with these needs and help to shape a dynamic, forward-thinking and motivated workforce with the high-level skills and knowledge needed for the post-Covid-19 business landscape.”

“Coming so soon after Burnley College Sixth Form Centre was named number one College in England by the Government for its student achievement rates, to host this Ministerial visit is a real honour and shows just how we are making an impact nationally.

“We hope that, once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, the Minister will come to visit us in person and experience the amazing atmosphere of possibility and achievement that surrounds you when you enter our outstanding Campus. In the meantime, we will be sure to keep her updated on the progress of our great Apprentices and how we are striving to drive future industrial growth in the region.”

Discover how you can be part of Burnley College’s success story – through A Levels, Vocational study or a Themis Apprenticeship. Be part of the supportive, empowering and caring Themis and Burnley College where we are focussed on your individual success. Be part of the number one College in England for student achievement. Visit; email or call 01282 733373 now for a place to start in September – or be one of the first to secure your place for Autumn 2021.