From education to employment


Career College students Sophie Habberley (left) and Precious Serwaa-Kusi who were both named as one of the winners in the first round of a competition run by Career Colleges Trust with Digital Director at the Career Colleges Trust, Julia Von Klonowski on the left

Students from four digital Career Colleges are being challenged by Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop an innovative digital solution to promote physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of young people.

The live project is being run by the Career Colleges Trust in partnership with AWS and The Samaritans. The judging panel also has representatives from London Sport, Marylebone Cricket Club and UK Active.

The aim of the initiative is to give the group of 16-19 year olds an opportunity to work on a real industry brief, while supporting and raising awareness of this important issue for The Samaritans. The Samaritans will be visiting each of the Colleges to help young people with the topic, and in particular giving guidance on how to deal with the growing issue of male suicide, the biggest killer of males under the age of 45.

The colleges involved in the project are Barking & Dagenham, BMet, Coleg Gwent and Westminster Kingsway, all of which have digital Career Colleges.

The full project brief was unveiled at a special all-day session, recently held at AWS HQ in central London. Students heard from each of the organisations involved and were given valuable insight into the health and sports tech industry and the many technologies currently being developed.

The eight-week challenge was revealed and the timeline for the project explained. Students will be working in groups of six on one of three proposals. These proposals were chosen from over 500 ideas submitted by Career College students in the first stage of the project.

Welcoming students to the briefing at AWS HQ, Digital Director at the Career Colleges Trust, Julia Von Klonowski, said:

“This is the third year we have run a live project for our students in partnership with AWS and I am delighted that The Samaritans and our other partners have joined us this year.

“Working on such a worthwhile challenge is an amazing opportunity for Career College students. Not only does it offer first-hand experience of the real world of work, it gives them access to industry experts and a flavour of the many jobs and opportunities available in the digital sector.

“Our project theme of Wellbeing is hugely important at a time when mental health issues in our society are increasing. The use of technology to promote emotional and physical wellbeing among young people is an interesting and valuable approach to address the issues and I look forward to seeing the many exciting and innovative ideas that our students come up with.”

 The task must be managed and run in exactly the same way as any other ‘real’ industry project. Students will have two project meetings with the client during the eight weeks, focusing on design, finance and the project plan.

Representatives from Career Colleges Trust, AWS and The Samaritans will sit on the project board, joined by representatives from UK Active, London Sport and the Marylebone Cricket Club on the judging panel.

The student teams will return to AWS’ offices in March to present their solutions, with prizes to be awarded to the winning projects.

Chris Hayman, Head of UK & I Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, said:

“We are excited to be supporting the Career Colleges Trust and its students for a third year, with the aim to inspire the next generation of digital technology experts in the UK. Introducing young people to innovative cloud technologies is critical for both today’s workforce and the workforce of the future.

“We know from the previous two years just how talented and creative Career College students are and we can’t wait to see what innovative ideas they develop to support The Samaritans on this very important issue of wellbeing.”

Samaritans Service Development ManagerKaren Harvey, said:

“It’s crucial that young people have the opportunity to shape resources that are aimed at their age group, as they know best what will work. This project is a great opportunity for the Career College student to explore how technology can support their peers. Samaritans have developed resources in consultation with young people and we are excited to be part of this project and to see the innovative ideas that are being developed.

“Samaritans DEAL resources, Developing Emotional Awareness and Listening (DEAL) are designed to develop skills to support young people, so that they can build their own emotional resilience and navigate the challenges life throws up, while supporting each other. It is essential to get the message across early that it is okay to seek help if you are struggling and highlight the different ways you can do this.”

Westminster Kingsway student, Kyle Woodhams, attended the briefing session. He said:

“I absolutely loved the time I spent at AWS last week. It was an amazing experience because I was able to learn extremely important skills in order to further enhance my knowledge about the business world.

 As a student I am not really involved with the business side of the world so having successful business people and also business start-ups discuss their goals for the future was an experience I’ll never forget.”

Bogdan-Valentin Fuiorea (19), an IT (Creative) student from BMet added:

“Projects like these are unique. You do things you wouldn’t normally do like present your ideas to an audience of hundreds.  You also get to know and work with different people, building connections for the future.

 “Mental health is not an easy topic to be open about, especially suicide.  It will be good to come up with technology solutions that help everyone in schools and colleges learn to be more comfortable talking about it.”

Precious Serwaa-Kusi (18) from Barking & Dagenham College said:

 “Being involved with this project will help me increase my confidence. It has given me the opportunity to talk to people I usually don’t speak too. The best thing about being involved in this project is working with different people, learning about each other and interacting with one and another.”

Nathaniel Brown and Joseph Hill, twho travelled from Coleg Gwent said:

“It was really interesting to get the chance to visit the Amazon headquarters in London. We researched the place before we went there and were very impressed with the offices. On the day, we really enjoyed engaging with each of the presenters and finding out more information about how our work will help the charities involved. We are looking forward to working on this project.”

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