From education to employment

Career College students showcase digital talent in employer-led project

A nine-week ‘live’ project set by Career Colleges with Amazon Web Services and Comic Relief for 60 students from four digital Career Colleges, has come to an exciting climax.

The students had been challenged to develop a solution within the digital space to engage even more 16-24 year olds with Comic Relief and secure their future support.

At the final, the 16 -19 year olds from Barking & Dagenham, BMet, Harrow and Westminster Kingsway Colleges, had to present their project solutions to each other and a panel of judges, including representatives from AWS, Comic Relief and the Career Colleges Trust.

 In a very tight contest, a team from Barking & Dagenham College triumphed as overall winners, as well as picking up awards for Best Presentation and Best run project.

 Teams from BMet College and Harrow College both scooped the prize for Best Solution, as the judges couldn’t choose between their projects.  A prize for Best Reflection – a vital part of the project – was awarded to a team from BMet College and five individual prizes were given to students who demonstrated exceptional Career College skills.

 Initial proposals to this challenge were submitted at the end of last year and three winning ideas were selected – Think Feel Do, Red Hand Print and a Malaria application. Students were then split into groups of five and given one of these three ideas to develop and create a digital application for.

 Alongside coming up with an innovative solution, students had to cost and plan the project out. They had attended an initial brief at AWS’ offices in January and had to hold regular meetings, mirroring a real-life industry project.

 Digital Lead for the Career Colleges Trust, Julia Von Klonowski, says:

“This project was the second one we have undertaken with AWS – part of our ongoing plan to increase young people’s awareness of the digital industry and the roles available.

“The standard of presentations and ideas today blew me away. The winning teams were exceptional and I have no doubt that everyone involved has an exciting digital career ahead of them.

“Taking part in a live project with one of the world’s biggest digital companies is a unique opportunity. Students have not only developed their team-working and digital skills but they have also gained first-hand insight into this extremely exciting industry.

“The link with Comic Relief added an important aspect, highlighting how technology can benefit so many people and causes. I am hugely grateful to AWS and Comic Relief for all their support to help these talented young people and congratulate everyone involved, especially the winning teams.”

This is the second year that the Trust has worked with AWS to set a live project brief for digital Career College students and plans are underway to develop a further project for later this year.

 Chris Hayman, Head of UK & IR, AWS Public Sector says:

“We were delighted to be part of this project and to help inspire the next generation of digital technology experts.

“My colleagues and I were highly impressed with the work produced and the professional way in which the students conducted themselves and managed the project.

“Through our work with the Career Colleges Trust, we have the opportunity to introduce more young people to the latest and most innovative cloud technologies. These technologies are critical for today’s workforce, and we were impressed as to how the students put these new skills into action.

“I wish the students all the best in their future digital careers and we hope to see many of them again.”

Judge Val Pomfrey, Head of Youth Engagement and Fundraising for Comic Relief, added:

“Comic Relief is so proud to have supported this event. What we witnessed was truly special, the students gave such care and attention to the task. If you’d asked me to come to Amazon in my formative years and present to such an audience, I’d like to think I’d have had the courage, but I’m really not sure.”

 The winning team from Barking & Dagenham College were each presented with £50 of vouchers from AWS. Other winners were awarded certificates and Comic Relief goody bags.

 Each student had to reflect on their own performance during the project and the areas they have developed in, found challenging and enjoyed. Many students explained that their confidence has grown throughout the project and time management was frequently flagged as a challenge.

Student Bhushita Jolly (18) from Illford was awarded a special individual prize for resilience, motivation and communication skills. She is studying for a Level 3 qualification in IT at Barking & Dagenham College and said:

“I’ve learnt so much about myself during this project and really grown in confidence. Some of my group pulled out but I didn’t give up and was really pleased with the final result.

“Having support from the Career Colleges Trust representative, Julia, was brilliant and she really inspired me to stick with it. This project has given me an interest in digital marketing and I hope to pursue this for a career.”

 Muhammad Khaleeq (19) is studying IT at Harrow College. One of the Think, Feel, Do teams, he said:

“This project has taught me a lot about time management, which I don’t find easy. I have also improved my presentation and communication skills.”

Westminster Kingsway College student Yasmin Dmello (18) from London is studying for a Level 3 qualification in IT. She won a special Career Colleges award for showing great improvement in her organisation skills. She said:

“This project really helped me sharpen my time management skills with the planning deadlines and need to complete tasks on time. Team working was really important as we had to ensure that everyone in the group contributed fully to our presentation. I also gained a lot of confidence in public speaking.”

The Trust will now be running a follow up session with all the colleges, helping to reinforce the skills that have been learnt and to plan next year’s project.

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