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Graduation ceremony celebrates success of higher apprentices

Higher apprentices celebrated their achievements during a special graduation ceremony in Chesterfield, watched on by family and friends.

The event saw learners receive their university level qualifications gained with Learning Unlimited, part of the Chesterfield College Group, in subjects ranging from business and construction through to computer game design, engineering, and health and social care. 

The accolade of Student of the Year went to Kieren Williams, whose learning journey began at the age of just 14, when he began a Level 2 school engineering programme with Learning Unlimited Derby. After successfully completing it, he went on to do an apprenticeship with recycling specialist, RBC Bpi, and gained a distinction grade in his BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He then progressed onto his Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, which he achieved with a high distinction grade and was offered a permanent position with his employers.

Kieren Williams, Student of the Year at Graduation Ceremony
Student of the Year – Kieren Williams

“I’ve always wanted to work in engineering and my apprenticeship meant I could gain experience, learn on the job and study at the same time,” said 21-year-old Kieren. “Everything that I’ve learned while doing my apprenticeship and my HNC has helped me in my day to day job. My employers have been very supportive and I’m now fully qualified and have my dream job.”

“Completing a HNC has opened doors for me. Yes, it’s hard at times to study and work at the same time but it’s a no brainer; an apprenticeship leads to bigger things and opportunities, without a doubt. I’d recommend it to anyone.”

Juggling work and study also paid off for 22-year-old Danielle Jones, who gained a Level 4 Business Administration and is now using her knowledge to help college students to follow their dreams too. After completing her apprenticeship at Chesterfield College, she is now Work Experience Co-ordinator at the College and in her new role in Student Futures helps students find work experience opportunities to help them kick start their own goals.

She said: “My training has been invaluable as I learned work specific skills in business and management as well as key skills such as communications. It was challenging at times to study while working but it was well worth the hard work. I’ve now got a job that I love thanks to the skills I’ve learned and I’m progressing my career.”

Juggling work, study and family commitments also posed challenges for higher apprentice, James Bateman, who also celebrated success last week after graduating with a Diploma in Management and Leadership. “This was something I never imagined would happen to me,” explained James, who managed to study around his work shifts at Derbyshire Constabulary. “I went straight into the police force at 18. I wasn’t academic at all and never thought I would return to education, so when the opportunity came up to study at the age of 35 I was a bit apprehensive,” he explained. “But thanks to the support of my employers and the patience and support of my family, here I am, now graduating and as a result I’ve been promoted and I’m now in a management role. It’s all been worth it.”