As National Careers Week (NCW) launched, the importance of future careers and training with advice from some well-known figures was on the agenda for students at West Nottinghamshire College.
As part of NCW which ran from 1-6 March, the college’s careers team put together a programme of virtual workshops and events to enable students to start planning their futures. Students were able to participate in activities via their online careers and work placement platform, Grofar.
Gogglebox star Baasit Siddiqui, who is also founder of Siddiqui Education, which offers workshops to schools and colleges in the UK, produced a video for students to look into his career journey. In his video he goes on to say just how much taking up every opportunity he has been offered has impacted on his career journey. This session was brought to students courtesy of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Collaborative Outreach Programme (DANCOP) which has one of its bases at the college.
There was a motivational session by inspirational speaker Richard McCann. Richard’s life story has been well documented and parts of it are currently on Netflix. He began life in poverty and spent time in foster care and a children’s home after his mother died in tragic circumstances. His mother was one of the Yorkshire Ripper’s victims in the 1970s.
Richard grew up with low self-esteem and lacked confidence and went off the rails and got caught up in criminal activity. He left school with no idea where he would end upon with little direction. Students learnt how he decided to turn his life around. He told students how he did this with an ‘I CAN’ attitude and an ‘I WILL’ motto.
He charted the points in his life where he overcome many challenges using a ‘bounce-back-ability’ graph, highlighting to students the many things that can be achieved even if they feel outside of your reach.
Throughout the week there was a wealth of information available online, designed to prepare students for future employment. Representatives from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) delivered a session to explain about employee rights in the workplace and the careers team delivered workshops to students at all sites on labour market information.
Students were able to log on to career profiling activities to see which jobs their skills were matched to, as well as watch videos from a range of people who are self-employed to discover their career journeys. One of these was of Simon Smalley of Small Animations who was interviewed by the college’s design and media specialist, Tony Hall.
Simon, who is a 3D animation and LightWave specialist, has worked on films such as Star Wars and Gangs of London. He gave students an insight into how he set up his company and described some of the projects he produces for clients such as television commercials and 3D animation. The interview can be seen here.
The virtual careers and employability programme enabled students from the Derby Road campus and the construction and engineering campuses to get the full remit of support and advice relating to their future career needs.
For those wanting to go on to employment after college, there were sessions detailing the very latest on apprenticeships, how to search for them, the different levels of apprenticeships and top tips when applying. The college’s apprenticeship team produced a video which explained more about their service and what employers are looking for.
Representatives from the Royal Signals division of the Army led a session for students featuring jobs in cyber, network and infrastructure engineering.
For those who wanted to find out if university was the right progression route for them, the careers team delivered a number of live workshops about how to research their options, courses and university selection, signposting students to a range of resources. Virtual university tours were available as well as video links to meet undergraduates on degree courses to discover more about the studies and the social life.
Dave Richards, chief operating officer for Bellrock Group spoke about his career journey to inspire others to think of theirs and the opportunities and challenges ahead. The company is a property and facilities management company which works with electrical and mechanical services.
As an engineer who has worked his way up educationally to BSc level, Dave has worked on high-level electrical mechanical projects for hotels, hospitals, and restaurants, including being project manager for the setting-up of the first MRI scanner at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.
His advice to students considering an engineering career was: “It is a hugely competitive world and you’ll be up against some other great engineers. You cannot stand still and wait for things to come to you. You need to strike out and grab it for yourself – and make it happen.”
Employability and progression manager Maxine Buttery said: “We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had so many guests deliver their advice, guidance and expertise during National Careers Week in conjunction with presentations from the college’s careers team whose efforts to research and collate a range of current engaging virtual information from a variety of industries for our students has contributed to the success.
“Having to deliver our sessions online this year hasn’t impeded the success of this event and we’ve had such great feedback from many students who have enjoyed and reaped the benefits from the contribution by our careers team and our guest speakers.
“Together with our in-house advice, live workshops, short online activities and quizzes we’ve provided students with some really great foundations on which to build and manage their future career plans.”

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