Blackpool Sixth has won both a regional and a national award for its Career Ready programme. The programme which has been running at the college for eleven years provides students with an in-depth preparation for the world of work, including one-to-one mentoring, skills masterclasses, and high quality internships in industry. The college’s programme has been selected because of the way it provides a wide range of students with excellent aspiration-raising activities in a geographical area where opportunities and experiences can be relatively limited.
Blackpool Sixth has built an extremely strong network of volunteer business partners without whose support the programme would not run. These partners are drawn from a range of sectors such as finance, travel and logistics. Some volunteers have been involved for more than a decade and their drive and enthusiasm has helped the programme evolve.
The regional and national awards recognise the overall excellence of the college’s Career Ready programme as well as the drive and ambition which its coordinators and partners have shown in growing and improving it. A particular highlight of the programme is that the college has been able to source placements for students both locally and much further afield such as in Manchester, Guildford, London and Wales. The programme has grown year on year from around ten students to 34 now across many different subject areas and backgrounds.
The programme has been invaluable for the study and career progression of former participants. Many of these students have been able to secure employment with their placement companies, including Santander, Lloyds, Ernst and Young, KPMG, L’Oreal, Citi Bank and Victrex.
One of the programme’s coordinators at Blackpool Sixth Dan Reeds said, “Career Ready gives us the chance to work with young people to really provide them with opportunities to show real aspiration and desire to work within the career industry of their choice. It has been an honour to watch them grow into confident young professionals through their work in the masterclasses and internships and interactions with local and national businesses as well as seeing them reach their goals of gaining their chosen apprenticeship or their first choice university.”
Fellow staff coordinator Sarah Whittaker added, “We are delighted to have won these awards on behalf of all involved in the programme. We are always working hard to improve what we offer students so they can develop their skills and overcome any barriers to success. We feel this is very important for our area where students don’t have access to the range of opportunities young people have in more affluent parts of the country.”
Connor Dagger, a current student who aspires to become a project manager at BAE Systems commented, “Career Ready has supported me in improving my presentation and interview skills as well as expanding my network by working with different employers and it has enabled me to take more control over my own career path and making me career ready.”
Effie Sharp, Primary Education Recruitment Specialist at Randstad Education, has been a Career Ready mentor since 2015, winning Mentor of the Year in 2017, said, “As a mentor we see the students grow in confidence, have well informed conversations about their future and be excited to learn what they can achieve. I am so proud of Blackpool Sixth and proud to be part of the programme.”
Paul Wilcock, director at Ashton Wilcock Chartered Accountants, has been part of the programme since the start. He added, “I have enjoyed working with some extremely well-rounded and keen young people and also watching them develop under the programme.”