Harrogate College column with Principal Debra Forsythe-Conroy

The long awaited A-level and GCSE results have now been announced and hopefully students will be pleased with their achievements. This year is one of the first in several decades where students are realising the fantastic opportunities studying an apprenticeship can bring.

Monday, 5th September 2016, 6:00 am
A computing course opens up numerous career opportunities

Until recently students would be confirming their university place or perhaps may be going through clearing, to find a university who would take them with their lower than expected A-level grades. At GCSE level students would be reflecting on whether to go back to school to study A-levels.

However the exciting developments in the new apprenticeship frameworks are causing students to consider another route and one which covers every industry, coupled with the availability of higher level routes for example: higher level apprenticeships and degree level apprenticeships. These qualifications can be accessed directly from GCSE onto an apprenticeship or from A-level directly onto a degree apprenticeship. This new approach to study is transforming career options for prospective students.

The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have identified key priority areas where skills are required to support and continue to develop the local economy. In Harrogate we work across two LEP regions; York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP and Leeds City Region LEP and amongst the identified priorities of both LEPs are skills relating to business and finance. These are considered staple courses offered by most colleges and training providers but sometimes these important areas are overlooked as career pathways and yet these two careers have the widest options for career diversity and career longevity.

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Students of business, for example, have a wide variety of career choices and through their training can demonstrate the aptitude required to work in almost any industry. Whilst it is recognised that management is a tough but rewarding job it yields such wide career opportunities, and typically these roles are higher-paid and required across all industries and professions, providing focus and strategic direction to the business.

Managers can also settle into less obvious careers such as market research, market analysts, insurance markets, transport and logistics, client relationship management and PR, advertising and marketing. Careers within specialisms such as human resource management can also be interesting and rewarding. There are a wide range of diverse industries which require functional management for example; retail, fashion, utilities etc. and these opportunities exist within the private, public and voluntary sectors. Harrogate College along with other local colleges and training providers offer a raft of management related qualifications.

So what about finance? Finance is also an exciting career choice with many options available, not just the typical ones such as accountancy or banking. Virtually every business will need to have someone on the team who is good with numbers. Opportunities exist particularly within the current economic climate where increasing numbers of mergers and acquisitions are taking place and demands for income tax management including private consultancy are in high demand. Harrogate College has held a long established strong reputation for its finance courses and enrols high numbers of students wishing to pursue a career in the financial sector. All the college’s finance courses are endorsed by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).

So what employment opportunities exist in Harrogate and beyond? The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) reported in their Employer Skills 2015 that skill shortage vacancies have increased significantly over the last two years, with some sectors in particular facing heightened difficulties in recruiting staff for example in finance.

Harrogate Borough Council’s 2015-2020 Strong Local Economy action plan cites that Harrogate and district can be categorised as an entrepreneurial district with the highest business start-up rate in the region. The most current economic forecasts expect the district’s economy to grow by 8.8 per cent from 2016-2021 and accommodation, food services, public services, finance, insurance and wholesale will see most jobs in the district.

Courses are available across all age groups and it’s never too late to learn or make a change in career direction. Both business management and finance are identified as areas of employment opportunity and growth - seems a perfect career solution. Contact the college for more information.