As an apprentice with Balfour Beatty, Northampton College student Tom Skinner is helping to play a vital role in creating the infrastructure for one of the county’s biggest and most-needed infrastructure projects.
The reconfiguration of the A43, the main link road between Northampton and Kettering, is seen as pivotal to the economic prosperity of the county, providing better links for industry and ensuring commuters’ journeys to work are quicker, easier and safer.
For Tom, it is a chance to learn essential skills to last a lifetime and put into practice techniques he is picking up during a five year apprenticeship with the civil engineering giants.
He said: “I come to site in the morning and get involved with the ‘setting out’ – dealing with the sub-contractors and making sure all the manholes, drains and kerbs are being built in the right place, at the right height and at the right time.
“It’s brilliant to have this opportunity on such an important project near to where I grew up and on a project that I know is going to affect so many peoples’ lives.
“I previously studied mechanical engineering but switched to civil engineering and love it. I’m thriving on the responsibility and having much more input into projects I’m working on.
“Northampton College has been amazing for me. Everyone there is very student-focused and everything is aimed at preparing the next generation of workers. I can definitely see myself staying at Balfour Beatty and working my hardest. I’m grateful for the opportunity and determined to make the most of it.”
Tom, from Rushden, started out doing a two-day-a-week work placement with Balfour Beatty before being encouraged to apply for an apprenticeship role. He will now reap the rewards of being able to earn while he learns ahead of studying for a degree as part of his apprenticeship.
Persistence paid off for Level 2 carpentry and joinery student Ollie Jashanica who landed himself a paid job after impressing on work experience.
The first year student completed a successful placement with Higgins and, keen to show his enthusiasm for the role, he wrote to the company asking to be considered for any future opportunities. Shortly after, he received a phone call from the director offering him a job!
Ollie said: “I was over the moon. I really enjoyed my time at Higgins and now I’m going to be working there full time in the holidays and part time during term time. It’s a great opportunity to earn some money and put what I’m learning at college into practice in the workplace. I’m really enjoying my course and I’d like to progress onto an apprenticeship.”
Emma had to overcome many challenges during her time at Northampton College, but her focus and determination to pursue a career in special education helped her achieve outstanding results.
Against all the odds Emma was awarded a triple Distinction at College and a first-class degree at University. She now wants to use her experiences to help others.
“I owe so much to Northampton College and believe they gave me the gift to achieve to the best of my ability. I was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum at school and I feel I missed out on much needed support. So, I left school to study A Levels at Northampton College and was overwhelmed by the amount of additional support available to students like myself.
“When A Levels didn’t work out for me due to my health problems the College helped me transition onto the Health & Social Care Extended Diploma. That was the best decision ever as the course was really industry-focused and gave me a massive head start in my degree as I knew all the basics.”
Emma enjoyed all aspects of the course; learning about the different pieces of legislation in relation to health and social care was something she found most useful, but it wasn’t easy with growing health issues, migraines, fatigue and loss of mobility. Emma started using a walking stick during her time at college and now uses a wheelchair.
“My tutors were amazing. I was allowed to complete my college work at home to reduce any fatigue, I was able to have breaks if I needed them and the additional support team helped throughout.”
Emma is about to start a part-time Masters Degree in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion (Autism Pathway) at The University of Northampton.
“I want to work with people with high functioning autism so that I can prevent other students from going through the same experiences I had and help them get the support they deserve as early as possible,” said Emma. “I am proof that with the right support you really can achieve great things. I can’t thank Northampton College enough.”
Kathryn Holmes was part way through a professional chef’s diploma at Northampton College when she realised a career in the kitchen wasn’t for her.
Rather than letting her give up, staff worked closely with Kathryn to ensure she stayed on to achieve her Level Three qualification and earn a place at university to study an alternative subject. Fast forward four years and Kathryn is the proud recipient of a first class honours degree in environmental health and looking forward to a new career working in food safety.
She said “It would have been easy for the staff to give up on me but they didn’t and I’m truly grateful for that. I really appreciate the extra effort they put in to ensure I got the qualifications I needed and the help they gave me in finding the right course at university. They didn’t need to do that – it just shows what amazing people they are.
“I’m grateful for all the opportunities Northampton College has given me and it’s been nice to stay in touch and come back to deliver presentations to current students on food hygiene and safety.”