Blackpool Sixth Form College are our National winners of the Aviva School/College of the Year award 2020. Here, coordinator Dan Reeds explains why the college joined Career Ready and how it has opened their student’s eyes to the world of work, increased their ambition, and boosted their confidence .

Blackpool Sixth Form college has been running the Career Ready programme since 2009. My role at the college is to ensure that all students have access to opportunities to further their employability skill set and understand what it takes to be successful in the world of work.

For most of my own student life I had no clue about the importance of employability skills until I started going for interviews, so when the opportunity to work with Career Ready arose I wanted to make sure that our young people, especially being from a deprived area, were able to take advantage.

Our students now know more about the world of work and they’ve grown as people.

The Career Ready programme has had major benefits for our young people. A lot of students are now seeing the wider opportunities that are out there and not just focusing on local jobs. As well as broadening their horizons, the focus that we have seen from students to push on and achieve the goals that they set themselves has been amazing. Not only have students gone on to perform better in their studies but also grown as a people. We have seen the most timid students really grow into confident, determined individuals who are driven to be successful.

The most rewarding moments are always seeing students succeed and gain opportunities that they thought were totally out of their reach. Things like reaching their first-choice university or the best degree apprenticeships, to also just bettering themselves as a person. Students often get back in touch years later and let us know where they are and that Career Ready was a catalyst for them getting there.

We’ve had students earn places at Durham, Warwick, Manchester, Lancaster universities and securing apprenticeships at EY, Citi, Lloyds, L’Oreal, BAE and other top companies.

Over the past few years we have really worked to enhance the programme and grow it from 12 students to now 35, with over 80 students completing an application. There have been so many great successes for us over the years, but the main one has to be winning this award. This is a testament to the hard work and dedication that myself and the team have put into the programme since it started 11 years ago.

With Blackpool falling into one of the most deprived areas in the UK, we want to equip as many young people as possible with the tools that are needed to make a success for themselves and to have a bright future. Growing the programme over the past few years has allowed that to happen and to be recognised as the College of the Year just confirms that everything we are doing is having an impact.

Learn more about how Career Ready works with schools & colleges across the UK to help young people kickstart successful futures.