National Careers Week 2023

Posted on March 22, 2023

Students with autism and other learning difficulties have taken their first step on the career ladder thanks to their Doncaster based college’s partnerships with local employers.

Multi award-winning Harrison College has run two weeks of National Careers Week with workshops and trips for its students, who are aged 16 to 18, to engage with 20 businesses.

Students also visited Opportunities Doncaster Live where they interacted with over 75 businesses and education providers.

College Principal and Chief Executive Officer Gemma Peebles said: “Our fortnight of activities and contact with employers for students has been of enormous value to them and we are so grateful to every business and organisation that welcomed them.

“Too often young people with learning needs are left to flounder but our approach is that a young person’s need or disability shouldn’t hold them back. For example, those on the autistic spectrum are often very good at analytical work, looking at figures, data, details and also following instructions. These students have a lot to offer. We have a moral duty to support them and try to change perceptions around their capabilities.”

The Ardagh Group opened its doors to students to get to know them and identify potential and talent. The students got to see most areas of the site including the mould shop and batch and furnace, which interested those students especially interested in science.

Careers in logistics, health and social care, the public sector, hospitality and leisure were introduced by employment manager Michelle Hope at Advance Doncaster.

There was inspiration too at The Earl of Doncaster where students were given a tour from basement to penthouse and learned some of the historic hotel’s secrets from general manager Paul Smith and his team.

Paul Stockhill, of Agemaspark, talked to students with aspirations in engineering about tools that are still part of the machines used on Mars, and Lisa Sellers spoke about the broad range of engineering apprenticeships available at AMRC and future growth and potential once internships are completed.

Nick Andrew, managing director of CWE (Crawley Warf Engineering), told the students about a journey over the past 20 years that has taken him to a position as one of the figureheads in the UK rail industry. Students also learned how the company keeps its fleet on track.First year students visited Enviro Electronics where they had the chance to dismantle electrical products, gaining understanding of how everyday items work, as well as contributing to achieving net zero targets.

Students in college also learned about employers’ expectations in hour-long, business etiquette sessions with Natalie Buckley and Dawn Cawston, from Synetiq, while other students visited the organisation for a tour.

Founded by Mrs Peebles, Harrison College opened in 2019 to offer specialist business, enterprise and employability education at post-16.

Whilst fewer than one in four students with autism stay in education nationally, the college identifies what its young people can do, focusing on the positive things they have to offer employers and preparing them for work.