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Meet the Employer Skills Academy Team

The ESA Team offer support to both employers and students within the Employer Skills Academies programme.





Meet the Employer Skills Academy Team

The Employer Skills Academy Team are responsible for supporting local employers and buisiness to establish their academy sponsorship package, assisting with site visits and work placements, as well as recruiting students to the academies.

If you would like more information about becoming an academy sponsor or have any further questions please contact

Rachel Topliss - Director of Student Employability

Rachel joined the FE sector 13 years ago after returning to live in the UK, having spent 13 years working as an Overseas Operations Manager for a global corporation.

Rachel is passionate about driving forward employer and student partnerships within the Sheffield City Region to bring together the college's educational offer in line with Sheffield’s own business need.

Heading up the colleges Employer Skills Academy Strategy, Rachel is keen to hear from employers who want to be part of the development of the workforce of tomorrow.

Shani Clifford - Head of Student Employability

Shani has worked within the education sector for almost 11 years and has a strong background in employer engagement.

Shani manages our Employer Skills Academies and Sponsor a Student programme, working within the City and beyond to build an innovative and engaging offer to enhance our learner’s journey.

Shani’s passion comes from her own personal educational experience and she is focussed on being able to develop a student offer that’s a little bit different to mainstream education, to allow our students to build resilience and strive to go further in their careers.

Neil Wragg - Head of Curriculum Employer Partnerships

Neil manages our Industry Placement Coaches within the College and is helping to drive the T Level strategy.   

Neil has worked in the FE sector since August 2012 in a mixture of private training providers and local colleges. With significant experience in the Engineering and Construction sector, Neil works with small to large employers to help recruit and train their next generation of staff.

Neil and his team are working to equip all of our students with relevant industry placements to give them real life experience of work which will give them the right skills to find employment in their chosen field. Working with companies to understand their business and to see how The Sheffield College can help them is a passion of Neil’s to ensure the placement is valuable for everyone.

Sarah Braddon - Employer Relationship Coordinator

Sarah is an Employer Relationship Coordinator working within Creative Industries, Hair & Beauty, Catering & Hospitality and Business.

"I’m excited to be part of a team that helps young people gain the skills, confidence and knowledge they need to be work ready. I was a student at the college and thoroughly enjoyed my time here.

I have experience in a number of sectors and have worked with a variety of companies within the local area, giving me a true understanding of the needs and requirements of different businesses.

I am passionate about providing the best possible experience to all employers and students that I work with and believe that this new change will be beneficial to the success of our city."

Michael Rhodes - Employer Relationship Coordinator

"I have worked with the business community of the Sheffield City Region since 2009 and I am delighted to be able to continue to engage with these businesses as part of the employer skills academy team. 

Having been both a student of Sheffield College and an employee of heritage brands within the city, I understand the importance of obtaining work experience in helping prepare the workforce of tomorrow.

The rewards that the work based programme can offer both students and employers within the region are mutually beneficial. I am passionate about communicating these rewards to businesses and helping students fulfill their own potential to the benefit of everyone involved".

Caroline Norton - Employer Relationship Coordinator

“I’m really excited to be part of the Work Related Activity Team, working with local businesses across the Sheffield City Region and obtaining relevant opportunities for our students, enabling them to build upon their work skills in their chosen sectors. From personal experience, I understand how important it is to have suitable work experience alongside your studies and therefore I am passionate about building relationships with employers to encourage students to achieve their full potential.

I have worked with and have an understanding of business needs across various different sectors, recognising the benefits for both the employers and students to engage in work related activity with The Sheffield College.”