The benefit of hands-on, vocational education is being celebrated this month, as some outstanding Career College students start exciting careers.

 Edward Flack (19) from Barking, Olufemi Davis (18) from Birmingham and Bhushita Jolly (19) from Bexleyheath all chose to join a digital Career College two years ago because they were interested in studying in a more hands-on environment.

Having each gained distinctions in their BTEC qualifications, Edward and Bhushita have both won places on prestigious degree apprenticeships with Ford and Accenture respectively. Olufemi studied Computing and IT and has just returned from an internship in Berlin at auto company BKS Tuning.

During their time at college, Edward, Femi and Bhushita took part in a live project with Amazon Web Services and Comic Relief. This project was organised by the Career Colleges Trust and required the students to come up with a digital solution, following a brief that was set by AWS and Comic Relief.

 Edward (19) is studying for a degree at the University of Greenwich one day a week and working at Ford for the other four days, gaining valuable industry experience on a degree apprenticeship programme. Edward says:

“Studying at a Career Colleges definitely helped me secure my degree apprenticeship at Ford. I was involved in two live Amazon projects during my time at Barking and Dagenham College’s Digital Career College. My team won the award for best solution for first project and we were the overall winners for second. I mentioned these in my application and the interviewers were keen to find out more about it.

“I genuinely think without these experiences, I wouldn't have got the job. It was also handy that I had presented at my second Career Colleges annual conference the day before my interview so during the interview, I could drop in how I presented at the conference only a day before.

“I plan to work my four years at Ford to get the experience and my degree and then see how I feel from there. I'd like to travel around the world and work in places like Silicon Valley but everyone who works at Ford seems to love it so much that they don't want to leave!”

Bhushita (19) from Bexleyheath studied IT at Barking and Dagenham College. She has just begun her degree apprenticeship at Accenture, training as a software developer. Bhushita says:

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“My college experience was really positive and the Career College mentor was of incredible support. She helped me believe in myself, giving me the confidence to pursue this apprenticeship in the IT world. Not only was I supported to develop my soft skills, such as presenting and being more confident around people, I also developed my technical skills – even building a prototype app as part of the AWS project.

“I am still undecided about my future career but want to gain as much industry experience as I can, which will then enable me to make an informed decision about what interests me most.”

Olufemi (18) has returned to BMET College to study music, after gaining a double distinction in his Computing and Creative IT course at BMET’s digital Career College. He was awarded an internship in Berlin, in the IT department of auto company BKS Tuning, where he worked on web development and photo manipulation. Olufemi says:

“The experience I had at the Career College was very helpful and the skills I learnt gave me a lot of confidence. The Amazon project really stood out on my CV. When I applied for the internship, and throughout the process, people kept emphasising the importance of the project and suggested I give more detail about it.

“I would recommend the Career College route to everyone who want to get ahead in their career. This sort of hands on education will play a really important part in shaping the next generation.”

Digital director at the Career Colleges Trust, Julia von Klonowski, says:

“I am so proud of these three students – and indeed all students who have opted to go to a Career College.

“Industry experience is absolutely essential for successful career progression. There is so much competition among school/college leavers and indeed graduates to land good jobs – which means young people need to stand out from their peers by doing something that sets them apart.

“Edward, Olufemi and Bhushita have not only demonstrated determination and talent during their time at college, but have made the most out of every opportunity presented to them.

“Opting to take a more ‘vocational route’ is not always easy, with schools and parents often not really understanding the extent of the many career possibilities on offer.

“Degree apprenticeships truly give the best of both worlds – providing industry experience as well as the academic degree. Many companies will cover all university fees too, which is a huge bonus. The earlier you can gain high quality work and industry experience, the better and this is central to the Career Colleges ethos.

“I very much hope that the success stories of Edward, Femi and Bhushita will inspire other young people to consider more vocational and technical pathways. There are many routes to career success!”

There are currently 22 Career Colleges open around the country. Each specialises in an industry that is facing a skills shortage, therefore offering many career opportunities. Specialisms include: health care, digital, hospitality, engineering and construction. Employers help to design and deliver the curriculum at each Career College to ensure students are learning the skills needed for the real world.

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