HARTLEPOOL College of Further Education has pledged to inspire future generations and guide individuals into their chosen careers, by opening a dedicated advice lounge for students and members of the public.
Working in partnership with the North East Collaborative Outreach Programme (NECOP), the College officially marked the opening of the FutureMe Zone with special guest British boxer and ex-student Savannah Marshall who cut the ribbon and welcomed in students.
After a recent report from the Children’s Commissioner showed that a child from a disadvantaged background in Hackney is three times more likely to go to university than a child from a disadvantaged background in Hartlepool, Head of Student Recruitment and CEIAG at Hartlepool College of Further Education, Mark Lee, is confident the lounge will both raise aspirations and make a positive difference.
He said: “It’s no secret that the Tees Valley has had its fair share of knock backs when it comes to employment and career opportunities.
“But instead of letting these statistics define us, we want it to drive us. It’s our role as a College to give everyone learning opportunities and the support and guidance they need to get their foot on the career ladder. We’re confident the FutureMe Zone will do just this.”
The newly opened lounge in the College offers a modern, comfortable space where students can access careers advice and explore the opportunities available to them through further and higher education, with the support of specialist advisors.
In addition to this, the College has also partnered with the Hartlepool Job Centre to open the zone to the wider public once a fortnight.
Mark explains: “We’ve seen many careers services reduced across the region with a national focus on moving advice to online platforms. However, it’s clear that people aren’t engaging with careers content online or via telephone. What works is good old-fashioned face-to-face personalised support, using technology to enhance the advice not deliver it.
“The connotations associated with turning up to the Job Centre to sign on are also quite negative. Instead the FutureMe Zone provides a relaxed, and positive environment where people can come to chat to a Job Centre careers advisor about what career options are available to them, through education or otherwise.”
The Hartlepool College’s FutureMe Zone is part of FutureMe North East, a programme of activities and services offered to students by the NECOP which is made up of five universities and 18 further education colleges in the North East.
In 2016 the programme received a £7.7million grant to increase the number of young people from participating neighbourhoods in the region entering higher education by 2020.
Mark added: “We’re delighted to have worked in partnership with the NECOP to secure the funding to create a space that will benefit young people in both the short and long-term.
“NECOP aims to raise awareness of higher opportunities for learners and here at Hartlepool College we’re all about excellence in Further and Higher Education. Our strong partnerships with universities across the region, particularly Teesside University, speak for themselves, and the College has also been recognised by Ofsted as having outstanding student support.
“This new space dedicated to life after College gives us a platform to raise this awareness amongst students in the region in a modern way.”
The zone is open to students every weekday from 1-4pm and the first session with Hartlepool Job Centre takes place on Thursday 24th May.