Case Study - An Introduction to Alternative Technologies - Wigan & Leigh College

Colleagues from Wigan Council

pictured: Kerrell Boardman – Climate Change Manager, Stuart Holding – Senior Energy Assessor, Sean Pidduck – Senior Mechanical Engineer, Phil Emerson – Senior Electrical Engineer, Trevor Smith – Team Leader Asset Management, Neil Tongue – Housing Standards Manager, Jo Houghton – Curriculum Project Lead, Ursula Hoyles – Head of HE

Provides good clear context to the subject matter and a broad overview

What we wanted to achieve

The course was designed to heighten awareness of the current and future use of alternative technologies within the borough.

  • The course was aimed at employers who were expanding their portfolio and tendering for retrofit work that include alternative technologies and or low carbon solutions but felt their staff didn’t have enough or sufficient knowledge and awareness of what is happening in the borough and the Greater Manchester region.
  • It was also aimed at upskilling individuals who had an interest in alternative energies and low carbon technologies and may want to change job roles within their organisation or do further training to help meet the demand of alternative energies and or low carbon solutions.
  • It was an opportunity for learners to understand the reason for sustainability in the construction and the built environment and how this can be met via retrofit and low carbon solutions.
  • The College had £167,000 to spend on equipment and purchased solar thermal, solar power, and wind power equipment along with a rainwater harvesting rig and solar photovoltaic off and on grid training and assessment rigs.
  • Being able to offer “hands on” experience from existing technology i.e. solar panels, ground source heat pumps, rainwater harvesting. This enhanced the experience for the students.
  • In addition to the attendance of 10 students on the course. Wigan and Leigh College were able to secure a guest speaker, Dr Charles Gamble of Community Power Solutions Ltd to provide an overview of a Community Wind farm Project in Avonmouth, Bristol to staff (GMCG colleagues were also invited) and current students. Home | Community Power Solutions Ltd

What we have achieved

The feedback from the students was positive, acknowledging content was pitched at the right level, relevant and there is a need for this type of course. The expectations of the students were met and ideas for development. Examples of feedback include:


A useful introduction to green technology and great awareness about the potential future of construction

Never too experienced to learn and also listen to other perspectives

Who we worked with

Employers – in the design of course

Predominantly collaborating with – Wigan Council with the following employers/employees attending the course

  • MSC Group (NW) Ltd, Stockport at Home, Wigan College Estates, MKK Development Consultants and Wigan Council.
  • Students/Employers benefitting from: Sellafield, Nuvia, Tenet, Cavendish, Siemans, STFC, MET Group, PBSI Group Ltd.
  • 2 colleagues across the GM attended a 1CPD session with Dr Charles Gamble (39 internal staff attended this event)
  • With the assistance of other tutors, curriculum leaders and HE leads, we were able to map links and identify common units within the Mechanical, Electrical, Civil Engineering and construction trade areas.

Staff who benefited from the project

  • 39 staff benefitted from bespoke CPD delivered by Dr Charles Gamble on wind turbine technologies
  • 2 x staff have completed a Solar PV Installers course
  • 2 x staff have attended a Design and Installation of Domestic and Small Commercial Electric Vehicles Charging Installations.
  • 1 x Head of Department was able to attend the British Association for Construction Heads Conference
  • 1 x staff completed a L3 Award in Introduction to Domestic Retrofit

Very interesting and would help colleagues expand their knowledge base

Resources and Materials we produced

We used the Short Course Profile to develop:

  • A leaflet detailing information about the course content, dates, cost etc for circulation within the GM SDF group.
  • A pre-entry questionnaire to gauge student’s prior knowledge of what candidate already know and what they were interested in learning. This was used to finalise the content.
  • Posters for circulation on social media and to physically display. Used to promote the current course and future courses.
  • Post-delivery promotional video for future use.
  • All documentation for the short course was devised utilising Microsoft SWAY presentations.
  • CPD resources and tool kits
  • Award Certification

What worked well for us and the benefits

  • Been given the opportunity to design and delivery a short term course that focusses on sustainability and raises awareness of the need for alternative energies and low carbon solutions. Linking with the Governments net zero strategy, it’s “10 point plan for a green industry revolution”, the GM “decarbonising Greater Manchester’s existing buildings” allowed and provided opportunity for  Wigan and Leigh college to assist with the Green skills retrofit educational challenge.
  • Working along side the other GM colleges to provided a selection of short term course that focus on the mapping the link between FE provision and HE provision.
  • Highlighting the limitless job opportunities within the construction and built environment sector to provided solutions to the current energy crisis and the new zero agenda.
  • Demonstrate to students current working in the industry, what is currently happening in the region via Wigan Council environmental and climate change team and support the boroughs respond to a changing climate via their “adaptation and resilience action plan 2021-2026” and their “ Net zero carbon vision 2038”.
  • The opportunity to align with Wigan Council’s vision and goals about sustainability and climate change.
  • Showcase the current practices happening in organisations that the students might not have been aware of.
  • Discussion on retrofit and what are the council’s future plans are.
  • Being able to offer more short term courses, that promote the sustainability agenda within the GM region leading to job creation and job security. The quality of discussions with internal colleagues to push this agenda to meet local priorities and needs.
  • Raising awareness of the need for relevant CPD in this area.
  • The links built within curriculum teams but also HE Lead links too, to further build on collaborative work.
  • The ability to use the CPD budget to upskill several staff to deliver on the sustainability agenda.
  • The resources we have been able to buy to offer not just a theoretical but practical programme too.

The challenges

  • Having to hit the ground running and designing a programme that has employer involvement, that suits the needs of several different agendas i.e. national, local, industry and individual companies. One that also has longevity, and relevance and will provide income generation. Therefore, discussions with several different organisations took place, including the thoughts of current employers, current students, Wigan Council, NHS and housing associations to understand their needs and tailor a programme that would be attractive.
  • With regard to the tight deadlines, a dedicated staff day was deployed to focus on this project. Meaning that the staff member moved from 0.8 FTE to 1.0 FTE.
  • Time delays incurred for the equipment purchased to deliver the programme, we were able to utilise the existing kit to deliver the course in the short term.

What we are planning to take forward

  • Continued collaboration with GM colleagues and HE Leads.
  • Possible development for another bespoke training programme on the new equipment purchased.
  • The opportunity to tailor the programme to meet a particular organisation agenda.

Excellent way to collaborate with the Greater Manchester College’s to better serve and benefit the local communities we serve.

The Team

Ursula Hoyles

HE Lead

Wigan & Leigh College

Ann Marie Francis

Vice Principal Curriculum

Wigan & Leigh College

Jo Houghton

Curriculum Lead

Wigan & Leigh College