Students praised for sharing ‘new perspectives’ with one of Harrogate’s biggest employers

A high-profile local business has praised Harrogate College students for the fresh thinking they contributed during a work experience placement.

Three Digital Media students joined the Techbuyer Group, a sustainable IT solutions provider that operates globally with its roots firmly in Harrogate.

One was welcomed by Techbuyer’s marketing team while the other two joined the firm’s sister company, Ortial, for the week-long placement.

A rewarding and seamless experience

Techbuyer, a member of the Harrogate College Employers’ Network, was delighted with how the students got on and the contribution they made.

Senior Marketing Coordinator at Techbuyer, Maral O’Brien, said: “This was a rewarding experience all round.

“We benefited from the new ideas and perspectives imparted by the  students, and found working with Harrogate College to be hassle-free.

“We found that setting up the work experience was easy, with a placement coordinator from the college helping to facilitate the selection of students, making it a seamless process. Techbuyer would recommend working with Harrogate College to other businesses in the area – it’s an impactful way to help young people become career-ready.

“The work experience opportunity was also a good way of furthering our goal of educating young people about sustainable digital practices in our local community.

“Building and developing links within our community is so important to us, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the college and other local organisations.”

Allies in the fight for sustainability

Techbuyer’s commitment to sustainable practices saw it named Circular Economy Business of the Year at the IEMA Awards, in 2020. The business also set itself nine ambitious targets focused on education, health and wellbeing, and responsible consumption, in 2019 as part of its commitment to the UN Global Goals.

Harrogate College has also put the environment and sustainability at the heart of its operations, and has a Sustainability Pledge which outlines its ambitions to become net zero carbon by 2030.

The college also teaches carbon literacy training and continually updates its courses to ensure they meet the demand for green skills and have sustainability embedded within them. 

In March, meanwhile, the college held a Green Month packed with environmentally-targeted activities and talks.

Maral said this made the college a natural ally: “Contributing to the UN Global Goals is a company-wide effort, and it is initiatives like the recent work experience placement with Harrogate College that showcase our commitment to education and to our local community.

“There is a clear link with Harrogate College in that they aim to instill key sustainability skills through every course in their curriculum, to shape and advance students’ career prospects.”

To find out about setting up work experience opportunities with the college, email contact placement coordinator Susan Roberts at Susan.Roberts@harrogate.ac.uk.

‘Autism can be a superpower’

When Megan Knight switched from university to study Beauty Therapy at Harrogate College, she was worried about feeling overwhelmed.

Megan is autistic and knew there would be both learning barriers and sensory triggers, due to all of the creams, oils and other substances involved, to overcome while pursuing her studies.

But the college’s staff worked closely with her to draw up an action plan that would remove obstacles and give Megan the very best chance to succeed – and it worked.

Megan, who is in her twenties, went on to excel at her course at both Level 2 and 3, and the college continued to support her when she started applying for spa therapist jobs.

Programme Manager for Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy at Harrogate College, Steph Keedy, said: “We decided to put a little explanation together for the employers Megan was approaching, about why having autism was actually a benefit for the role of a spa therapist.

“This really helped them gain some understanding, and it resulted in Megan gaining employment at a spa, at Hazlewood Castle, which is her dream job.”

Autism Europe says that a ‘serious lack of adapted education and training’ is one of the greatest barriers that autistic people face in terms of trying to gain employment.

Megan is now loving her spa therapist role, but acknowledges the extra barriers that people with autism have to overcome when they are studying and job-hunting.

Pushing past stigma

She said: “I absolutely adore my job at Hazlewood Castle! We have a fantastic team and everyone is super-supportive.

“My Spa Manager couldn’t be any nicer and has been a rock to me these last few months. Despite only being in my role for a short amount of time, I’ve been able to progress so far and I’m so grateful to be given that level of responsibility.

“When you’re autistic and trying to get a job, many employers are unsure about autism as there is still plenty of stigma around it. You just have to push through and keep applying without letting any rejections discourage you.

“If, and when, employers do ask about it I’ve found it best to focus on what autism can positively do – it can be a superpower if you let it be.”

She is full of praise for the help she received at college – and has words of encouragement for anyone else considering a similar journey.

Exceptional support – and a message for others

She said: “Due to all the different sensations you experience during the Beauty Therapy course (through being expolsed to oils, creams, exfoliants and similar substances) there’s always a risk that something will set off a negative sensory response.

“But my tutors at Harrogate were great at setting a calming work environment, so I was less likely to be triggered.

“Autism can also affect the way we learn but, due to me being a visual learner, I was often able to watch a treatment demo before being able to copy it myself.

“For others with autism who are thinking of studying or applying for a job, I would say – never let the ignorance surrounding autism get in your way.

“Despite the difficulties and struggles we can face every day, your autism gives you a creative view on the world, so work with that and let that creativity shine through. Stay focused on your goal and don’t let anyone get in your way.”

Steph added: “Megan keeps in touch with all the beauty team and has told us she would like to come in and share her learner journey with our current students, and demonstrate some of the treatments she now carries out in the spa.

“She has come such a long way in just under three years, what an absolute success!”

Shouting about our students’ incredible volunteering efforts on Power of Youth Day

Power Of Youth Day, which takes place during Volunteers’ Week, is an opportunity to shout about the incredible contributions that young people are making in their communities, society and the environment. Throughout the day events and celebrations take place across the UK. Leaders, organisations and young people take to social media to celebrate the #PowerOfYouth, recognising the invaluable and diverse contribution they are making to society.  

To those ends, here are a few organisations that empower young people that you can direct interested students towards. 

LGBTQ+ Fundraiser

Fundraisers are always a hit at Harrogate College and a group of students worked on an LGBTQ+ fundraiser for LGBTQ+ history month. They planned and advertised the event and sold homemade cakes and biscuits, homemade decorations, wristbands, flags and bookmarks, raising nearly £100 for Yorkshire MESMAC.

UNICEF Fundraiser

The same group of students helped the Students’ Union raise money for UNICEF to support children who are suffering in Ukraine as a result of the war. The students supported by making and serving iced coffee, raising over £100 altogether.

Pride Party

The students are going to continue their hard work and use all the skills they have learnt to run a Pride Party, including decorations, wristbands, flags and mocktails, in June. They plan to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust, a cause close to some of the students’ hearts.

College hoping to taste award success

Harrogate College’s Hospitality team is in the running to scoop a major award.

The Bistro on the Park has been shortlisted in the Best Achievement of the Year category of Harrogate’s Hospitality and Tourism Awards 2022.

Run by the college’s catering and hospitality students, expert chefs and tutors, the bistro is regularly transformed into a full restaurant for themed dining evenings. Those events give the students valuable experience of working in a busy, public-facing catering environment to ensure they are ‘work-ready’ when they have completed their studies.

The college’s hospitality department has also been working closely with local employers – on recruitment drives, work experience and tailoring its courses – to help the sector recover from Covid-19.

Proud to be nominated – and to support the local hospitality industry

Harrogate College’s Cultural, Contemporary and Heritage Studies Programme Manager, Jason Parry, said: “It is an honour for us to be nominated for this award.

“It is no secret that the hospitality industry has been through one of its toughest times. The impact of Brexit and the pandemic has put an increased pressure on businesses and the staff who work tirelessly to keep the local hospitality and tourism trade going.

“The fact that our teaching team and students have been put forward for this award is a great reflection of the commitment and passion that the staff and students have demonstrated over recent months,, while working to support the local sector. And such commitment is perfectly paired with the resilience that is needed to work in the industry at this time.”

The college will find out how it has fared on Monday 6 June, when the award winners will be announced during a gala dinner at the Royal Hall.

Sharing real-world experience with students 

Its hospitality students have enjoyed a busy year that has seen them create and serve up several meals to the public based around themes ranging from Autumn Vegan Dinner and Christmas around Europe to St Patrick’s Day.

They have also been meeting and learning more about a number of local employers including RHS Garden Harlow Carr, who they are working with on a ‘design a menu’ project.

And in April, during the college’s Green Month, they learned more about sustainability and reducing food waste through a talk from Lucy McCarey, from Too Good To Go.

Recent fact-finding visits, meanwhile, have included trips to Rudding Park Hotel, the Grand Hotel, in York, and Leeds city centre – where Professional Cookery students sampled dishes and produce at Trinity Kitchen and Kirkgate Market.

Harrogate’s Hospitality and Tourism Awards received more than 1,000 nominations this year, and the awards night sold out in record time. Harrogate College sponsors the event’s Newcomer of the Year award, and was also involved in the judging for the Chef of the Year category.

Cookery students put skills to good use for Irish-themed evening

Professional Cookery students got a chance to hone their fish preparation skills while preparing a themed menu for St Patrick’s Day.

The Harrogate College students, who recently completed a unit focused on preparing and cooking fish, had to produce a four course meal for paying visitors at the March event.

The dishes they created were inspired by the theme of the Irish Coast. They included salmon pate (served with pickled cucumber and Guinness and treacle soda bread) and cod in white wine and chive sauce, with a traditional lamb stew also prepared as an alternative.

As always on dining nights, the college’s canteen area was transformed into a busy restaurant which, on this occasion, served about 40 guests.

A great success

Harrogate College’s Cultural, Contemporary and Heritage Studies Programme Manager, Jason Parry, said: “The evening put the students’ skills to the test and was a great success.

“The progress they have made was clear for all to see.”

A Professional Cookery student at Harrogate College preparing fish
A Professional Cookery student at Harrogate College preparing fish

The cookery students also recently enjoyed a trip to Leeds city centre where they were given a hotel tour, visited the Corn Exchange, sampled some dishes at Leeds Trinity, and took a ride on a water taxi.

After sampling the food at Trinity Kitchen the group took part in a challenge that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the BBC’s The Apprentice.

Based at Kirkgate Market, the students were divided into teams that had to gather specific information about seafood and meat, and find the most unusual fruit and vegetables.

The Leeds visit was arranged as a fun-focused reward for the students following months of hard work. 

Professional Cookery student Ellena Harrison-Wood said: “The Leeds trip was an amazing experience for us and the other hospitality students that came along.

“At the market we were shown the importance of shopping locally, and how important community cohesion is when it comes to the hospitality sector and good food in general.

“As for the Saint Patrick’s night meal, the customers had a great time and said we had improved massively since our first Italian night, last year.”

The college, which runs a range of hospitality and professional cookery courses, has been working closely with local businesses to help the sector recover from the impact of the pandemic.

College hosting funding awareness event for construction sector

Harrogate College is hosting a special event to help members of the local construction industry find out about funding and training opportunities.

The CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) funding awareness session takes place at the college on Thursday 26 May.

The event will give attendees the chance to find out about what support, in terms of grants, funding and training, is available.

The session runs from 8.30am to 9.30am and will include three short presentations including from John Long, of CITB, and Lorraine Kirbitson, from North Yorkshire Construction Training Group.

A representative from the college will also give an overview of the courses and apprenticeships that we offer, and show visitors the facilities that are available in our construction department.

Those attending will also be able to find out how to access free training at the college, which is being funded by Zero Carbon Harrogate, later in the year.

The event is open to anyone working in the trades. To reserve your place contact Lorraine on 07713 034917 (email lorraine@nyctg.co.uk) or book on Eventbrite here.

Harrogate College is pleased to be hosting this event as part of its ongoing support for local building sector and our commitment to responding to employers’ needs. If you would like to be updated about similar events and training, join the Harrogate College Employers’ Network.

Sustainability strategy must link up with college-level action on green skills

Harrogate College has hailed new proposals to put education at the heart of the UK’s sustainability drive.

The government’s Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy includes plans to introduce a new Natural History GCSE, develop a Primary Science Model Curriculum and promote carbon literacy training.

The Department for Education (DfE) believes those proposals will play a crucial role in the wider push to reduce the country’s environmental footprint.

Harrogate College, which is already working with local employers to provide a range of green skills training – including for the electric vehicle and retrofitting industries – has welcomed the move.

But it is urging the DfE to ensure that sufficient support for vocational training at post-16 level is included in its plans.

Funding vital for sustainability sector vocational courses

Our Principal, Danny Wild, said: “It is great to see the Department for Education taking positive action on sustainability, and there is much to be applauded in this new policy.

“Encouraging more young people to seek jobs in the green sector and learn the necessary, emerging skills that are needed, is vital as we work to produce a workforce fit for the challenges ahead.

“As a further education provider committed to sustainability and supporting the local economy, our college is continually tailoring its offering to do just that.

“We have already run successful retrofit courses and, from September, our curriculum will expand to include more sustainable construction training and courses on electric vehicle charging units.

“However, we need proper support and funding from the government to be able to keep providing and expanding such training as the demand for green skills continues to grow.”

Leading the way on carbon literacy training

Part of the new strategy involves an acceleration of the government’s plans to roll out carbon literacy training at all levels of education.

Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, has also pledged greater support for teaching climate change awareness at all levels by 2023 – and new requirements will be introduced for further education teachers to build sustainability into their lessons.

Harrogate College is already ahead of the game in that regard, having completed its first carbon literacy training sessions for students and staff earlier this year.

Ensuring that carbon literacy training is provided is part of the college’s Sustainability Pledge, which outlines its ambitions to become a net zero carbon college by 2030.

The commitment was announced when the college hosted the launch of the first Harrogate District Climate Action Festival in October, 2021.

Harrogate College Business Newsletter – April 2022

Harrogate College prides itself on working hand in hand with local businesses and organisations to provide the skills and training they need to ensure that our economy grows and thrives. Our monthly newsletter is a handy way of keeping our partners informed of developments at the college.

To receive future Harrogate College Business Newsletters directly to your inbox click here


Business Newsletter – April 2022
Dear Partners,

As a college focused on providing the green skills that our district needs we are always keen to announce new initiatives within this sector. A good example of this took place in April when we issued a press release all about how we are tailoring our courses to provide electric vehicle infrastructure training.

Apprenticeships also have a vital role to play when it comes to plugging the national skills gap, so we are pleased to outline in this newsletter the steps we are taking to update our programmes and improve our offerings to best support local employers.

Construction is one of the district’s key sectors, and we are delighted to be hosting a CITB funding awareness event at the college on Thursday 26 May when local firms will find out about grants, training and other forms of support. 

One of the many events we held during March, for our Green Month, involved a visit from Too Good To Go, which works to reduce food waste by connecting people to restaurants and stores that have surplus, unsold food. We have now created an article all about the visit, as outlined below.

We hope you enjoy the read.


Danny Wild
Principal
Harrogate College



Meeting the electric vehicle challenge
More training to support the country’s transition to electric cars will be introduced at Harrogate College this September.

Harrogate, as recently widely reported in the media, has been revealed to be one of the ‘worst prepared areas in the UK’ in terms of supporting the shift to electric vehicles. Those findings were mainly based on the current scarcity of public charging points, with research showing that the district has just one for every 134 electric or hybrid cars.

The college, however, is working hard to address the issue by teaming up with local specialists and providing technical courses to support the electric vehicle (EV) sector – and has just bought some charging units to use in training this September. Read the full story here.

Action on apprenticeships
Recent figures have shown that apprenticeship numbers are falling nationwide – and especially in wealthier areas like Harrogate. Harrogate College, however, is taking action to reverse that trend by working closely with local businesses and tailoring its curriculum to deliver the skills they need.

The college was part of a 100 in 100 recruitment campaign in February to encourage employers to take on an apprentice to ‘future-proof’ new and existing employees. Principal Danny Wild said: “While Harrogate is a relatively affluent town and many pupils who go on to study A Levels are likely to go on to university, we also need to factor in the increasing number of pupils who are interested in more practical options.

“It is vital for businesses to understand how to recruit and support apprentices, and the college stands ready to support them. We work to ensure apprentices have the skills they need for the workforce. If we are to kickstart the economy by upskilling people, we need to promote apprenticeships as an option.

“Through the 100 in 100 apprenticeship campaign and the employers’ network, there is plenty of opportunity for us to level up in the district. By addressing the employment and productivity gaps, we want to make sure no one is left behind regardless of what background or pathway they take.”

The college currently works with more than 100 employers across industries such as hospitality, construction, science and pharmaceutical, as well as engineering. It consolidated its ties with those businesses by launching the Harrogate College Employers’ Network (HCEN) last October.

Mr Wild added: “We are continually looking at ways to use our apprenticeship data so that we are better informed about how we can improve our programmes. We hope that as the employers’ network grows we can gather relevant data from all stages of the apprenticeship journey, both for the apprentice and employer, including on attendance at training right through to the endpoint assessment.”



Fresh thinking on food waste
The college, which has made a Sustainability Pledge, is committed to promoting action that protects the environment – and recently introduced carbon literacy training for students and staff.

As part of our Green Month activities in March, we brought together students and staff to educate them on the impact of food waste. An article all about the visit can now be read on our website, here.

The college invited Lucy Mccarey, from Too Good To Go, to talk about the subject. Lucy, who has spent over two years fighting food waste and is passionate about the planet, introduced students to her top tips such as planning meals and storing food correctly – as well as using resources like the Too Good To Go app, where individuals can buy discounted food from organisations to prevent it being thrown away.
Construction industry funding awareness event
Harrogate College will be hosting a CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) funding awareness session for the local construction industry on Thursday 26 May.

The event will give representatives from visiting businesses the chance to fiind out about what support, in terms of grants, funding and training opportunities, is available.

The session runs from 8.30am to 9.30am and will include three short presentations including from John Long, of CITB, and Lorraine Kirbitson, from North Yorkshire Construction Training Group. A representative from the college will also give an overview of the courses and apprenticeships we offer, and show visitors the facilities that their staff and apprentices could use in our construction department.

Those attending will also be able to find out about how to access free training at the college, funded by Zero Carbon Harrogate, later in the year.

To reserve your place contact Lorraine on 07713 034917 (email lorraine@nyctg.co.uk) or book on Eventbrite here.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of our Business Newsletter – we’ll be back with more next month!

College stepping up to meet the electric vehicle challenge

More training to support the country’s transition to electric cars will be introduced at Harrogate College this September.

Harrogate, as recently widely reported in the media*, has been revealed to be one of the ‘worst prepared areas in the UK’ in terms of supporting the shift to electric vehicles.

Those findings were mainly based on the current scarcity of public charging points, with research showing that the district has just one for every 134 electric or hybrid cars.

Harrogate College, however, is working hard to address the issue by providing technical courses to support the electric vehicle (EV) sector – and has just bought some charging units to use in training this September.

Working with businesses to fill the green skills gap

Principal Danny Wild said: “As a college committed to sustainability, we are determined to support emerging green technologies, including those that will enable our transition to greener forms of transport.

“We have been developing our curriculum to provide electric vehicle infrastructure courses, while tailoring our motor vehicle courses to meet the changes in car ownership.

“In doing so we have also been working closely with local firms so we can provide the appropriately skilled, work-ready students they need.

“The electric vehicle sector is a rapidly growing one that represents a fantastic opportunity for both our students and local businesses, and our ever-evolving range of courses will keep adapting to serve that.”

Harrogate district’s electric vehicle future is bright

APS, which runs a national electric vehicle charger repair and maintenance service from its Harrogate HQ, has partnered with the college to set up a training and recruitment programme to meet the growing demand for EV service engineers.

Business Development Manager John Dyson said that was one of many reasons for optimism: “It is ironic that Harrogate has been criticised so strongly for a lack of action over installing EV chargers, when there actually is so much going on behind the scenes.

“Recent announcements by Transdev, that all Harrogate buses are to be electrified, and Harrogate Borough Council, which is to install 34 charge points in local car parks, gives a taste of just what is on its way!”

The college will introduce a new course, the Level 3 Award in the Installation and Commissioning of Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment, this September.

*For example, in this Harrogate Advertiser report.