Member Article

New partnership supports college students with route into employment

Sunderland College has launched a new initiative with North East business Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) to offer students valuable training and real work experience alongside their studies.

The Future Hub, based at the college’s Bede Campus, is designed to provide a route into employment for further education students, as well as teaching them real life professional skills and attributes that will prepare them for the world of work or university.

The voluntary work placement programme within the Hub allows students to develop their confidence in a professional working environment and gain transferable skills, attributes and behaviours such as communication, teamworking, influencing and objections handling, organisational skills, resilience and problem solving.

Following four initial training sessions by the experts at GAS, the students receive on-going training and professional support from a dedicated Team Manger and Business Solutions Adviser, who are based in the Hub full-time.

Students attend voluntary sessions on a flexible timetable with weekday morning and afternoon availability to ensure the Hub is an accessible experience for all students and will not impact lessons, studies or opportunities outside of college.

Kellie Campbell, Faculty Director (Technical) at Sunderland College, said: “We are delighted to partner with Great Annual Savings to launch the exciting Future Hub at Bede Campus.

“We want our students to have a range of options available to them post-study, whether that’s higher education, apprenticeships, training or full-time employment.

“The Future Hub will provide students with professional attributes, skills for life and experience of the workplace to form the foundation of their future CV under the guidance of our Student Services team and Great Annual Savings’ expert trainers.”

Mark Jones, Commercial Director at Great Annual Savings Group, said: “As a business we place real significance on leaving a positive impact on our areas of operation.

“We work with young people in many different ways. The North East of England has the country’s lowest rate of sustained employment or education following 16 to 18 study and we see that as a statistic we can address.

“The Future Hub provides essential transferrable skills that will help students in life, no matter their choice post further education. Being based entirely on campus ensures it is accessible for all. We’re proud to be partnering with Sunderland College on the project.”

The Future Hub has already attracted 22 students from across the college studying a wide range of courses from Business to Performing Arts.

Health and Social Care student, Denni Stafford, aged 17 from Farringdon, has been volunteering at the Hub since it was launched. She said:

“The Hub has provided a great opportunity for me and made me realise that I enjoy this line of work. Being here has helped me so much and the GAS staff have been amazing: They have been a great help in making me feel welcome and letting me know I’m doing great. We have a laugh and get on really well.

“I had considered working in a call centre, but I wasn’t 100% sure. I’d like to start a career with GAS and wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. I would recommend this opportunity to other students as it’s a great way to build your skills and make friends.”

19-year-old Kyle Cowley from Seaham who is studying HND Business at Sunderland College, added: “The Hub provides an excellent opportunity for people still in education to gain a variety of new skills. I applied to volunteer because I was impressed with the way that GAS presented the Hub. I recognised it as a chance to undergo personal development to benefit me in future whilst also being able to work on my business course.

“Through the Hub, I have learnt how to use a variety of different admin tools such as Outlook and Excel. I have also learned how to have effective conversations with individuals of authority. This includes speaking with managers, business owners and many others. Prior to working with GAS, I had no experience in this field and was very much out of my comfort zone. However, working with peers and GAS I have been able to build my confidence and really get an understanding of the industry.

“I would certainly recommend working with GAS to others. It has given me an opportunity to develop my communication skills, gain some knowledge about the utilities and consultancy industry whilst also having opportunities for monetary rewards.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Sunderland College .

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