This is different to the hair salons and restaurants found in most colleges, developed for the sole purpose of training students. Colocation involves independent businesses working in partnership with the college to place trading and training facilities within the same physical space.
There are a number of colocation projects at Highbury. Collingwood Care Services runs a care agency from the college, regularly taking students out on work experience and exposing them to real-life situations at a pivotal time in their training.
That’s Solent, a community television channel, works from studios within the college, and content is generated from across the curriculum. Highbury Northarbour Centre, one of the largest construction training centres in the South of England, not only provides an outstanding learning environment for students but also houses construction firm NDK Interior. "It’s important that, during the course, the students are rubbing shoulders with employers, so that employers aren’t something they see for the first time when they go out on work experience – they are throughout the building," explains the college’s managing director, Dee John.
In addition, students see role models running viable businesses, providing a clear link between the expertise they develop through their study and a sustainable career.
But the benefits of colocation are not just one-way, according to Dee John. "NDK Interior’s workforce has tripled since they have been based in Highbury. And they have never had to spend any money on advertising – they get referrals on top of referrals," she says.