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Enterprising learners gain valuable work experience during lockdown

Learners across Eastleigh College are finding ways to enhance their studies with work experience opportunities while adhering to Covid-related restrictions.

Paul Stannard, Vice Principal - Quality, explained: “Some learners had planned work experience postponed due to the college and employers' putting rules in place to remain Covid-19 secure. However, it’s been inspiring to see learners’ tenacity and dedication as they’ve sought direct experience placements to enhance their studies.”

Seventeen year-old Tia Gelder, is in the first year of a Level 3 Childcare and Education course and has used a part time job at Kings Worthy Primary School to gain hands-on experience.

After completing work experience as an LSA when she was a pupil at Henry Beaufort School, Tia decided this was a career she would enjoy. Her job at Kings Worthy’s after school and breakfast clubs works around her college course, and she explains that each supports the other: “The job helps me with my course because I’m getting first-hand experience. It helps me when we have to plan or give examples for activities as I do this at the after-school club anyway.” 

Tia’s role includes encouraging the children with fun outdoor and indoor activities, preparing food, and working in a year group bubble developing skills through play such as building blocks, colouring or picture games.

With ambition to go on to study a degree and become a primary school teacher, Tia added: “I love working at Kings Worthy School, watching the children grow and seeing how clever they are and how much they change and develop. On my course, you hear what it is like to work with children but, to me, it’s so beneficial to actually do it and realise how important it is to be a good role model.”

Second-year Catering and Hospitality learner, Ed Rogers, explains his part time job at The Hog Shack, has changed during the Covid lockdowns, but he’s still able to work and continue to hone his skills.

The 18-year-old, who first decided he wanted to be a chef when he attended Eastleigh College’s Junior Chef Programme while he was at Crestwood School, explained: “I started the job at The Hog Shack 15 months ago, and joined because of the opportunity to run the kitchen on Saturdays. I have great co-workers and bosses, and we work so well together which I appreciate even more since the lockdowns. And it wasn’t just about earning money on the days I’m not in college, it was about relaying the skills we learn during lessons, keeping them fresh and not forgetting them."

Ed, whose work experience has introduced him to skills such as smoking and curing bacon, and spiking pigs for hog roasts, added: "I’ve worked throughout all the lockdowns including tasks such as making fresh tray bakes and cooking to order, although I’ve not been able to help out with the hog roasts since pre-Covid.

“I feel working part time that I’ve gained a lot of skills and knowledge about the world of catering because there are some things that you just don't learn without actually working in the industry. Even if you don't have experience or a relevant job or any experience upon starting a catering and hospitality course, the college you will gain it from the college’s East Avenue restaurant which creates a great real working environment.”

Eastleigh College has invested in further developing its remote learning facilities and opportunities for students, with many learners finding there are some advantages. Ed explained: “It has benefited me as we have been able to take part and listen to guest speakers from the catering and hospitality industry who have shown us their products, talked about personal experiences and also informed us about employment matters.” 

Tia added: “Remote learning shows you a different side to learning and in some ways I find it easier because I feel more comfortable and confident when I am at home. Also studying at home gives me more time to focus on the work without getting distracted by friends.”