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Connecting with Technical and Vocational Education

In order for young people to make informed decisions about their futures, they must be exposed to all career pathway options available to them. 

You'll find a number of inspirational Careers Champions highlighted below and you can use these social banners to celebrate your own Careers Champions who are connecting young people with technical and vocational education.


Connecting with Technical and Vocational Education

So many people are working tirelessly to ensure that awareness of technical and vocational education is raised, often with innovative use of partnerships and local networks to deliver the information to young people that could inspire them to succeed on their future pathway.

Let’s recognise all those whose hard work has helped to raise awareness of opportunities like apprenticeships and FE courses and training, as well as those that have challenged stereotypes, to enable young people from all backgrounds to progress through pathways such as these, and on into great careers. Watch the videos below to hear about John Yarham and Brian Lightman's highlights, and meet the Champions themselves…


Darshan Leslie

'Darshan is a star in the making who has himself embraced an apprenticeship route and continues to promote the pathway to other young people'

Darshan Leslie

Student, University of Leicester

Darshan, who joined The Careers & Enterprise Company as an apprentice working in the investment team in 2017/18, exemplifies what it means to be a Careers Champion.

From the moment Darshan joined the organisation, it was easy to spot he was a class act. His bright, can-do, inquisitive attitude meant that he was great fun to work with and, perhaps more importantly, took advantage of every learning moment he could to build his experience and skills.

Within a year of leaving school, Darshan co-hosted an Annual Conference addressing an 800 strong audience with confidence, grit and grace. He is a class example of someone who has embraced further education and training to the fullest, in turn reinforcing to the CEC how inspiring young apprentices are and how brilliant they can be.

Now a student at university, Darshan continues to be a beacon of inspiration for other young people to connect with technical and vocational training, dispelling the myth that you have to choose one education route over another.

Thank you Darshan for sharing your experience and encouraging other young people to consider all the career options available to them. 

Claire Garner, NHS

‘Claire has tirelessly transformed awareness of and access to NHS STEM careers though the implementation of apprenticeship provision, the creation of NHS career pathways and the development and deployment of apprentices into career learning opportunities for schools and colleges.’

Claire Garner

Application Training & Development Manager, NHS - Sherwood Forest Hospital Trust

As a long standing member of staff within the NHS who came to the job through a vocational route, Claire is passionate about promoting apprenticeships. 

On top of her day job, Claire is an Apprentice Lead, an NHS Careers Ambassador and an Enterprise Adviser. Through these roles, she commits to supporting apprentices to achieve in their roles, which sometimes includes ensuring young people with Special Educational Needs (SEND) have access to the support they need to thrive.  

She encourages all her apprentices to be role models by giving back to their schools and colleges through careers encounters. These interactions not only boost teacher and student understanding of NHS careers, but also develop the confidence and communication skills of her apprentices. 

Claire champions her role as an Enterprise Adviser by including take up of the voluntary role as a developmental opportunity for former apprentices, meaning that even more young people with apprenticeship and STEM backgrounds are going into schools and colleges to provide advice on technical and vocational education. She also leads the way by providing support and sharing skills with other Enterprise Advisers in her region.

Thank you Claire for your fierce commitment to working with young people and supporting them to access careers through technical and vocational training routes.

Kaylie Dixon, HETA

 ‘Kaylie is a champion because she works in the male dominated industry of engineering and breaks down barriers for students applying for apprenticeships and traineeships through her down to earth honest and open talks around careers with HETA and she is the perfect role model for students.’

Kaylie Dixon

School Engagement Administrator, HETA Ltd

Kaylie champions STEM based subjects by leading on the delivery of encounters to engage and inspire young people to take up engineering. 

In schools and colleges, Kaylie provides apprenticeship talks, bringing the job to life with enthusiasm and passion. Her down to earth approach puts the students at ease and she shares her own journey through an apprenticeship which really helps them visualise what it might be like. She also understands the importance of alumni when inspiring young people about technical and vocational education, inviting ex-students to talk to current students about the differences between going to college to do engineering and an apprenticeship. 

From Y11 mock interviews to offering personalised support for individuals; from taster visits to hands-on ‘day in the life’ workshops – Kaylie always manages to instill confidence in the young people she encounters. She is making a real difference - one school is proud to share that a female Y11 student has submitted an application to become an Electrical Engineer after these interactions. 

As a young woman, Kaylie thought that ‘apprenticeships were for the boys’ and now does everything she can to share information, examples and support to encourage young women through apprenticeships and engineering via this route. She continues to develop her own learning and has recently started a second apprenticeship in Digital Marketing. 

Thank you Kaylie for being a role model, breaking down barriers and promoting careers in STEM with energy, enthusiasm and passion.

Alan Bailey, Buckinghamshire UTC

‘Alan makes things happen for the benefit of the students at the Bucks UTC.’

Alan Bailey

Employer Engagement Lead, Buckinghamshire UTC

Alan, Employer Engagement Lead at Buckinghamshire UTC, is a champion at engaging with employers to maximise the technical and vocational learning for the students attending the college.  

Despite a global pandemic, Alan has continued his mission to ensure students receive vocational learning and experiences in a meaningful way.  Having worked in different industries, Alan believes his experience of work helps him connect with the students. 

He has recently created a project for students to develop their own careers website so that the learning in their IT and business curriculum is tied to real-world examples. He also has plans for the whole college and all employer partners to collaborate on a Smart Motorways project. 

He knows the value of interacting with industry and has forged relationships with local technical employers to establish apprenticeship schemes which deliver meaningful employer encounters, such as with BAM Construction, BMW and Flannery Plant Hire.   

Alan’s energy is infectious and not easily ignored. He is the kind of person who makes things happen, and the students technical and vocational learning at the college benefits massively because of it. 

Thank you Alan for being an advocate for technical and vocational learning and creating practical experiences that your students can take into the world and their careers.

Ania Kondera, Wiltshire College & University Centre

‘Ania brings out the best in everyone.’

Ania Kondera

Training Consultant Business Development, Wiltshire College & University Centre

Horticulture is an industry which often struggles to attract skilled employees. Ania has shown dedication, commitment, and passion to change this by engaging with employers in industry to promote apprenticeships available in horticulture. She has worked hard to build relationships between employers and the college community, delivering the consistent message that a skilled workforce will add value and boost staff morale.  

Ania has been resilient in the face of COVID 19, adapting quickly to ensure students don’t miss out on vital connections with vocational and technical education by collaborating with The British Association of Landscape Industry (BALI) to promote career opportunities to schools in the local area.  
Her drive and passion in building a community at the college has allowed apprentices to meet a wide range of employers. Apprentices are encouraged to join industry organisations to further their professional development and improve their social capital, helping them to enhance and maintain employability skills and build opportunities to explore career pathways in the industry. Ania works across a range of other sectors to support apprentices including business and entrepreneurship, finance and administration - amongst others. Ania cites the importance of teamwork in making this work so successful, with the dedication of colleagues playing a huge part in what’s been achieved. 

Her connection with the young people brings out the best in them, supporting them to complete their apprenticeships feeling empowered and confident. Thank you Ania for providing your apprentices with vital connections to industry and making a real difference to their futures.