How was my internship at Ayrshire College?

Corinne Carswell is coming to the end of her internship with our Human Resources and Organisational Wellbeing team.

We previously spoke to Corinne at the halfway stage to get a sense of what this internship involves and whether she has enjoyed it so far.

Now that her time with Ayrshire College is drawing to an end – with this being her final week of the internship – we asked her to give us her final thoughts.

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“I can’t believe how quickly my internship has went. It feels like only yesterday that I was sitting in front of a three-person panel, being interviewed. This was daunting for someone like me because I would consider myself a shy person, however the panel couldn’t have been friendlier and definitely made me feel more relaxed.

“As I explained in my last blog, I applied for the internship because I was looking to be challenged and apply the skills I had learnt throughout my HR degree. I can now say that being here has given me the opportunity to learn new skills and has boosted my confidence. In my last job, I was in a team of three and I wasn’t really used to branching out to other staff members like I have here – here I communicate with heads of curriculum, directors and external partners at the College.

“I have been involved in a number of different projects from working on the College Values to supporting the continued development of the Promoting Wellbeing Group. I have also learnt more about partnership working through, for example, the Ayrshire LGBT+ Education Network and each of the local Violence against Women partnerships.

“In my previous blog post, I had mentioned I was involved in supporting the work of the Inside Outside project. Since seeing the exhibition, the College is now developing its own Equally Safe plan to support the prevention and end of violence against women and girls. A key contribution of mine to this has been drafting a gender-based violence (GBV) staff policy. Having a GBV policy is significant for it can help create and foster a safe working environment.

“Another project that I have really enjoyed is working on the college Values. When I was a student here I never appreciated how values are the essence of a college identity. Getting students involved has really opened my eyes as to how students expect to be treated in relation to each of the College’s Values. This task had its challenges but I think that’s what makes it exciting and worthwhile, for example approaching other students and staff to write down their thoughts on what each of the Values meant to them. I certainly gained fulfilment from working with the HIVE students and from the feedback I received, they definitely found the project beneficial and boosted their confidence as well as mine.

“I have also really enjoyed my time working in staff development, from being involved with CPD week in February to assisting Kevan Scade [Staff Learning and Development Technologist] in his learning technology roadshows. This is an area of HR I have always had a keen interest in and from getting a taster of what responsibilities the Staff Development team operate; it is definitely something I would like to pursue.

“In my time here I have been stretched and I feel ready now to embark on my next journey armed with new knowledge and skills. I have received a substantial amount of support and advice from many people I have met and work with.

“The variety of my internship has been great. My role is so diverse, meaning no one week is the same as the next. From all of the projects and campaigns I have been involved in, I have learned how to become a better communicator, more organised and my confidence has definitely flourished.

“Overall, I feel this internship has given me the foundations to continue on to my next adventure and I would like to thank the College for giving me this brilliant opportunity and would advise all graduates to go for an internship.”

A week’s work experience with Police Scotland

Campus Liaison Officer Kimberley Bradford had two of our students working alongside her last week (23-27 July) on work experience placements.

Here Kimberley lets us know how they got on!


What a week it’s been!

Last week I was extremely busy organising lots of different work experiences and visits for Prince’s Trust students Stephanie and Michelle.

Both girls have previously studied Uniformed Services at the College as they are interested in the Emergency Services, and so volunteered for work experience with me to find out a bit more about the police and what we do. Here’s a quick rundown of our week.

MONDAY 23 JULY

We started the week off with an early start to get up to the Police Scotland Mounted Branch to observe the horses and riders in training. We got to see the horses dealing with different hazards like loud noises, walking over large tarpaulins and through flags. The girls couldn’t believe how skilled the horses and riders were and loved meeting all the horses. They especially loved police horse Lewis who loves cuddles.

In the afternoon we visited the Police Scotland Dog Branch – the girls told me they were ‘absolutely buzzing’ to meet the police dogs! As soon as we arrived we were given a tour of all the kennels and outdoor training areas and then one of the dog handler trainers gave the girls a demonstration of his German Shepherd Oscar at work. He found a set of keys from a field and showed how obedient he was to command. We even got to see Oscar doing ‘bite training’ where he is trained to bring criminals to a stop by jumping and holding onto their arm if they are running away.

Dogs

TUESDAY 24 JULY

Tuesday morning was spent in class at the Kilmarnock Campus. I taught the girls how to note down details as a police officer would do and what information the police would need from a witness and why. We also practised taking statements with college staff volunteering to be witnesses, allowing the girls to take details from them. The staff were very impressed, as was I, by Stephanie and Michelle. They were very professional and managed to remember all of the important details even though it was only their first time. I asked the girls to keep a ‘police style’ notebook for the remainder of the week with details and times of where they were and what they were doing.

Interview

On Tuesday afternoon, I took the girls to Kay Park in Kilmarnock where we did a police style fitness test that really put us all through our paces. They learned how important it is to have a good level of fitness within the police and how difficult it must be to run wearing heavy uniform. The girls are planning to keep their running going and will go together twice a week.

WEDNESDAY 25 JULY

On Wednesday we went to Kilmarnock Police Office. The girls were given a tour of the station, and an input on prisoner processing and a look at the custody suite. Safer Communities also gave them an input on their role within the local community as well as Counter Terrorism. Stephanie and Michelle even got to see some drugs that had been seized that day.

It was a lot of information for them both to take in and I really put them under pressure when I asked them to take some details from two officers from the police station. They coped really well though and remembered everything they had learned the previous day.

THURSDAY 26 JULY

This was a big day for Stephanie and Michelle. After me droning on all week to them about the importance of recording details, times and statements accurately, they got to see why it was so important when it comes to going to court. We went to Ayr Sheriff Court and were shown around by the Court Officers and then got to watch a full trial from start to finish. The girls were surprised at the level of detail the Sheriff, Fiscal and Defence discussed and realised why it’s so important to get all the information correct from first contact with a witness, victim or accused, as even the smallest details can be relevant as evidence.

FRIDAY 27 JULY

Kimberley

On our last day we met in the Kilwinning Campus for an input on the Police Scotland Recruitment Process. I went through all the information that the girls would need to know and research before applying for the police. Michelle and Stephanie told me that they were even more motivated now than ever to join the police in the future and that they hadn’t wanted their week to end. I must say it has been a privilege getting to spend time with such motivated, enthusiastic and hard-working girls this week, and if you ask me they will be just what Police Scotland are looking for in a couple of years. They just need to build up their confidence as they have all the right skills and definitely the right attitude!


Here’s what Michelle and Stephanie said about their week with me:

Michelle:

“Before commencing work placement I thought that all police officers were serious and strict, when in reality they’re not. When we attended Kilmarnock Police Office we actually had a good laugh with the officers, it was brilliant. This week has given me an insight into what it’s like being a police officer – it’s an extremely rewarding job but also very challenging.”

Stephanie:

“This week has been such an eye opener and a great insight into the police. I enjoyed the court as I have never seen a trial take place and it was interesting to see how it all came together. What surprised me the most is how normal the police are, everyone thinks they are always serious but they are full of the banter. The whole week has been amazing, and it has made me even keener to join the police.”

If you’re interested in a career in the uniformed or emergency services, such as the Police, Fire or Ambulance Service, the Armed Forces or Prison Service, our Uniformed Services course is a great place to start.

What’s next for former School-College Student Euan Lobban?

As the 2017/18 school year has come to an end, many Ayrshire secondary pupils will have completed their school-college course at Ayrshire College and be thinking about what’s next.

Maybe it’s a full-time course at College?

We caught up with Euan Lobban, an NC Building Services student at the Ayr Campus. Euan is a great example of a student who has progressed from a School-College course, into several full-time courses at College. He perfectly demonstrates that there is #NoWrongPath when it comes to education, as he prepares to move on to a HNC in August 2018.


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Euan is a former Kyle Academy pupil and has been a full-time student at Ayrshire College for two years now. With support from his family and College staff he has grown in confidence and self-belief, and is ready to explore what he can do next.

What School-College course did you study?

“I studied Introduction to Construction Crafts. When I was at school I enjoyed graphics and woodwork. I felt I was more of a practical learner, so thought the course would suit me. I felt school was more theory focused and I wanted to do a more hands-on subject.”

Did you enjoy the course?

“I really enjoyed the course. It was good for a variety of different reasons. I was able to learn a whole range of new skills. The course was also split into 3 different trades; painting and decorating, joinery, and bricklaying, which meant there was lots of variety and different types of assessments. I also got to meet new people from different schools, so I had the opportunity to make new friends.”

Did this course influence your decision to come to Ayrshire College full-time?

“Yes it did. My school asked me if I was enjoying the college environment and if I wanted help to apply for a full-time course. My guidance teacher sat down with me and showed me some course options. I decided to apply for NPA Plumbing (SCQF Level 5) at the Ayr Campus. My uncle was a plumber and my parents felt this course would really suit me, I started it in 2016.”

What are you doing now?

“After I completed the NPA in Plumbing, I was offered a place to continue at college and choose to progress to NC Building Services. There isn’t a next level up from NPA Plumbing so moving to NC Building Services meant I could go on and do a HNC, which is what I am planning to start in August 2018.”

Have you enjoyed the NC Building Services course?

“I really enjoyed it. The course is quite different from what I have done before. It is very theory-based, which I am not really used to. I also have felt in the past that theory is something I struggled with. Doing this course has actually made me feel more independent and confident about it.

I am planning to do my HNC in Construction Management starting in August, I went for my interview in February and have since been offered an unconditional.”

Did you aspire to do a HNC at College when you were at school?

“When I was at school doing my national 4s I assumed I would end up with a part-time job at a supermarket or something afterwards. It was the support of my family, student services, and the lecturers here that have pushed me to get to where I am now. I didn’t really think I would even get much further than NPA Plumbing. It’s support from others that has made me see what I can achieve.”

What kind of support did you get from Student Services at Ayrshire College?

“At the start, when I was studying the Introduction to Construction Crafts course, they helped me when I needed support in class. Sometimes when the lecturer was discussing a topic in class, I would struggle to understand it immediately. To help with this, student services worked with the lecturer and Inclusive Learning to help me with my notes. I am dyslexic, so this really helped when I was studying. Inclusive Learning also got me some equipment to help me read handouts and course textbooks.

One of my lecturers, Euan Granger, taught me how to study at home. I wasn’t good at studying myself, so he taught me techniques for how to focus and block out noise.

This year they offered me a laptop with specialist programmes on it to help me study, but I felt I was ready to be more independent. The support over the last few years has helped me gain confidence in myself and my abilities. It’s been great.”

What are your future plans?

“Student Services have helped me plan out what I want to do next. When I finish the HNC Construction Management course, I want to go to university, so they will help me with my application next year.

I have always thought about going to university but I thought it would be later in life. My parents went to university when they were in their 30s. I am excited to see where my career path takes me.

Eventually, I hope to get a job in quantity surveying or marketing for the construction industry.”

 

Euan is just one example of a student who has progressed through several levels and courses at Ayrshire College. Student Services and Inclusive Learning are areas of the College committed to supporting students in any way they can.

Student Services offer different kinds of support depending on your needs. You can use the service as often as you need. The advisors are here to support you throughout your time at Ayrshire College.

Student Services can also put you in touch with other college services such as funding, Inclusive Learning, counselling and more.

Inclusive Learning are also available to ensure students that require additional support are able to access equipment and resources to aid their learning.

For more information on services available to students click here.

For more information on school-college courses click here.

Employers are ‘kick-starting’ their involvement in Foundation Apprenticeships – Woodward

Foundation Apprenticeships are proving to be quite the hit at Ayrshire College, not only with school pupils, but local employers too. This year as a part of our Year 1 Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship programme two local companies, GE Caledonian and Woodward, have been actively mentoring the pupils during their practical classes.

Foundation Apprenticeships are two-year long courses for School pupils going into S5. One of the top benefits of the course is the employer engagement.


As we are coming to the end of Year 1 for our second set of Engineering Foundation Apprentices, we caught up with Kirsty Harvey, Manager, from Woodward to find out why she wanted to be involved with the course.

Kirsty Harvey 1

Why would Woodward be interested in mentoring the Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship Class?

At Woodward we believe we have a social responsibility to support the younger generation and inspire them to pursue a career in engineering. It gives us an insight into the next generation of engineers and lets us work closely with the college to streamline our ideals.

Does this programme help you recruit directly for your Modern Apprenticeship Programme?

It is a great opportunity for companies to recruit their next apprentices as you get to see how the students work over an extended period of time rather than just an interview.

What was it like as a female Apprentice at Woodward?

There is equal opportunities for male and female students at Woodward. I have had no issues of discrimination through-out my time at Woodward and have had so many great opportunities to promote STEM activities and host visits around our site for pupils.

I wish I had the opportunity of a foundation apprenticeship when I was at school!

I think it is a fantastic opportunity and the fact that universities are recognising it should make it a very appealing choice for senior phase pupils.

 

Employers are ‘kick-starting’ their involvement in Foundation Apprenticeships – GE Caledonian

Foundation Apprenticeships are proving to be quite the hit at Ayrshire College, not only with school pupils, but local employers too. This year as a part of our Year 1 Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship programme two local companies, GE Caledonian and Woodward, have been actively mentoring the pupils during their practical classes.

Foundation Apprenticeships are two-year long courses for School pupils going into S5. One of the top benefits of the course is the employer engagement.


As we are coming to the end of Year 1 for our second set of Engineering Foundation Apprentices, we caught up with Gordon, Apprenticeship Mentor, from GE Caledonian to find out why he wanted to be involved with the course.     

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Gordon (third left) with the Foundation Apprentices

Why would GE Caledonian be interested in mentoring the Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship Class?

For us this is a way to identify potential future candidates, so it is brilliant. We get to work with the pupils in a classroom environment and be a part of discovering new talent. As well as finding talent, we can also play a part in supporting those that maybe aren’t ready to apply for an MA with us yet, but could in the future.

Mentoring the class has also enabled us to support a pupil who applied for an MA with us but didn’t get selected for interview due to his CV. When I found this out, I felt that as a company we could support this pupil. Meaning if he decides to apply to us next year, then great, but it will ensure he is in a good position for wherever he decides to apply.

Does this programme help you recruit directly for your Modern Apprenticeship Programme?

We are using the Foundation Apprenticeship and PEO courses almost like a pipeline feeding into our Modern Apprenticeship programme. The workshop experience and qualifications they get from these courses means we can recruit the pupils straight into a second year apprenticeship.

By being a part of the class as a Mentor, it’s kind of like pre-apprenticeship interviews, we get to know them and they get to know what we would expect.

On my first visit to the class, I spoke with the pupils to learn more about them. Helping with their practical activities actually reminded me of when I was an apprentice, which was a nice throwback to my younger days.

The practical experience the pupils gain from these courses is a great foundation for us to build on in our Modern Apprenticeship programme. Taking the time out of my working day to be here makes absolute sense for the company. We get to know who we are investing in and can be assured of their knowledge and abilities in an environment they are comfortable in and don’t feel they are being tested by us.

Is there a mix of male and female apprentices at GE Caledonian?

This is something we as a company we feel very strongly about. We want to inspire both male and female pupils to come and work with us. I know there is a mind-set that only males come and do apprenticeships, but that is just not the case with us. We have very successful female apprentices on our programmes and we want to continue to encourage all pupils to apply to work with us. This is something we have always done.

How is Fraser (Year 2 Engineering Foundation Apprentice) getting on?

Fraser is just a fantastic pupil, he has exceeded our expectations. He is gearing up to start with us in August as a Modern Apprentice.


Kirsty Taylor, Foundation Apprenticeship Lead at the College commented: “Engagement from employers is paramount to the overall success of these types of programmes. It is not just about hearing about jobs and visiting companies, it is about having the opportunity to converse with employers, find out what they are looking for from young people, and just having the confidence to demonstrate their knowledge and skills for the mentors. Currently, we have had several Year 2 Engineering Foundation Apprentices being offered Modern Apprenticeships upon completion of the course. In one case, a pupil was even offered the MA a year in advance. These are the types of opportunities employer engagement can offer.