Former CANDI student ‘super happy’ after netting apprenticeship with global tech giant IBM

A computer savvy former City and Islington College (CANDI) student is excited about his future after gaining a place on a degree apprenticeship with global tech giant IBM.

Imtiyaz Rahman, 18, secured his place on the BSc (Hons) Digital and Technology Solutions apprenticeship after achieving D*D*D on an IT Level 3 Diploma last summer.

He spends four days working at IBM’s offices in Southwark and the one day studying at Northeastern University London, a hub of the university in Boston, Massachusetts.

Imtiyaz, from Westminster, revealed that his uncle and cousins had been a big influence on his decision to pursue an IT career at an early age.

“My interest stemmed from an initial desire to play computer games with them when I was about seven. My uncle knew how to build PCs and told me about the hardware and the key things I needed to know, and I began to get into it in more depth,” he said

Imtiyaz’s interest grew as he began to find out more about how computers work and the different components needed to build them, which enabled him to upgrade his own PC.

“I’m interested in many different aspects of IT. On the one hand I’m interested in the hardware side, but since I’ve been at IBM I’ve been shown some new aspects of software and cloud-based technology that I never knew about, which has also piqued my interest,” he said

“I’ve also learnt about AI and quantum computers, which are faster, more powerful and beyond any computers that most of us know today.”

Imtiyaz heard about the apprenticeship through his friends at CANDI. He also applied for another at Lloyds Bank, which although unsuccessful helped him better prepare for his application to IBM.

“I had my focus dead set on going to university and that was the way to my future career, but then my classmates started to tell me about degree apprenticeships,” he said.

“I didn’t expect to make it. With UCAS application you send off your application and personal statement, but with the degree apprenticeship I had to answer a lot more questions on why I want this role and why I am good at it as well as face-to-face interviews and a presentation.

“When I got the call to say I had got on the apprenticeship I was in the middle of class. I walked out of my lesson to take the call and they asked me about my results. There was this daunting silence and then they said I’d got the role, and I was super happy.”

Imtiyaz explained that the diploma at CANDI gave him a realistic expectation of what it would be like to work in IT and how it is applied in business, while also preparing him for degree level study.

“When I’m doing assignments for university, I’m using the same approach and research skills I learnt at college. The practical side on my course also meant I am now able to look at someone’s coding and have a general idea what it means,” he said.

“The teaching was rigorous and intense. It was great to have teachers who had passion for their subject and wanted to see their students grow as people and improve their skills.”

Imtiyaz explained that the degree apprenticeship was a great option because IBM cover his tuition fees and he is not just getting an education but a career.

“What I’ve learnt is that no one really knows what they want to do for the future and not to plan or have too many expectations because situations are always changing, so keep your options open,” he said.

“I am happy for the future because this is a potential career opportunity at a great company that’s well known within the industry, which will give me the skills and experience over the next three years that I might not have got at university.”

Find out more about Computing and IT courses and apply here.

Travel and Tourism student lands job as British Airways flight attendant while still at college

A British Airways flight attendant has told how his career took off after studying at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL)

Leandro Addivinola, 32, secured a job with the airline in February 2022 during the first year of his Travel and Tourism Level 3 Diploma and undertook four weeks training in May.

He joined the cabin crew for Euroflyer, a subsidiary of BA based at Gatwick airport, and is now working on long-haul flights out of Heathrow while completing the second year of his course.

Leandro, who was born and raised in Italy, said: “I’m really happy and proud of myself because when I think back seven years ago I could barely speak English, and now I’m working for BA, the national carrier of the United Kingdom. It’s a big achievement for me.

“I’ve flown to Turkey, Morrow, Greece and Cyprus. I’m still very excited and hope to stay in BA and grow. This is just the start for me.”

Leandro was born in Naples and grew up in Perugia where he studied for a degree in social sciences at university before coming to UK in 2015.

“After my degree, I looked for a job for around six months but didn’t find anything because the economic situation in Italy was not good, so I decided to come to the UK and find a job,” he said.

Leandro worked in a restaurant making pizzas and then as a waiter as his English improved before an eight-month spell as a pastry chef in Ibiza in 2018 and then returning to London.

“I wanted a better career. I didn’t want to work in restaurants for the rest of my life, so I decided to restart,” he said.

“The travel sector had always fascinated me. I liked the idea of travelling and working at the same time and I also wanted to improve my English. I also knew about hospitality from working in the restaurant.”

Leandro, who now lives in Wood Green, enrolled on a Travel and Tourism Level 2 Certificate in September 2020 and progressed to Level 3 the following year.

He applied to BA in November 2021 after seeing an advert for cabin crew on Instagram and was offered a job after an interview and assessment day held virtually due to COVID.

“It’s a very gratifying and rewarding job. You get paid to travel the world and meet lots of people from different cultures and learn a lot every day,” he said.

Leandro praised his teachers at CONEL who had not only taught him about the industry but how to apply what he had learnt to real situations.

He further recalled being inspired at college when former Travel and Tourism student Richard Coelho-McErlean shared his experience as a flight attendant for BA.

“The course work is designed to give you the skills you need to apply in the job every day,” said Leandro.

“The teachers are really supportive. Every time you have the issue or don’t understand something you can ask them for help. I have learnt so much, and I’m still learning.”

Find out more about Travel and Tourism courses at CONEL and apply here.

Government Minister discovers how to make a meal out of food waste, at WestKing Victoria Centre

On 8 March, Jo Churchill, the Minister for Agri-Innovation and Climate Adaptation, visited Westminster Kingsway College’s Victoria Centre, where she found out about what the college’s renowned School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts is doing to tackle the issue of food waste, and how to turn leftover food into a delicious meal.

The event was organised by the charity WRAP as part of Food Waste Action Week, their annual campaign which aims to help people reduce the amount of food that they waste. As a Minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Jo has responsibility for environmental management and waste, and cares passionately about the issue.

Food waste is a huge problem with a significant environmental impact. If food waste were a country, it would have the third largest carbon footprint in the world – with approximately 1/3 of all food wasted, the resources used to make it contributes to 8-19% of total man-made greenhouse gas emissions. And as Catherine David, Director of Collaboration and Change at WRAP explained: “Over the next seven days, the UK will waste more than 87,000 tonnes of food across all our homes, contributing to this country’s 9.5 million tonne food waste mountain. But if we focus on storing food well, making lists before we shop, freezing and defrosting more, we can tackle this problem and save money too.”

Jo Churchill visit Westking

Although most food waste in the UK is in people’s homes, chefs have an important role to play too by reducing food waste in their restaurants and hotels. Colleges like Westminster Kingsway must play their part too, by ensuring that their culinary students are trained in the most efficient use of food and how to minimise wastage.

Our culinary students, led by Culinary Arts Lecturer Vince Kelly, treated the Minister and guests to a menu of delicious small bowls of food made from some of the most commonly wasted foods, including potatoes, carrots, bread, bananas, fizzy drinks, fruit smoothies, milk and meat.

Jo Churchill MP isit victoria centre

The visit concluded with Jo and guests finally getting to enjoy the dishes the students had made, which inspired everyone to think of how they can make simple delicious food at home out of their leftovers.

The menu included, to start:

  • Spiced paneer on carrot slaw with a lime and poppyseed dressing – made from leftover milk and carrots.
  • Ham croquettes with a minted pea puree – made with sliced ham, potatoes, bread and frozen veg.
  • Thai potato cake, with date banana chutney – made from banana skins and potatoes.

For the main:

  • Roast pork trim pie topped with mash and crisp fried skins – made from leftover pork and potato skins.
  • Stir fried chicken trim and rice – made with the final trims of meat from a chicken and frozen veg.
  • Roast vegetable crostini – using leftover bread baguettes.

And to finish:

  • Carrot cake – made from leftover carrots.
  • Fizzy drinks sorbet – made from a combination of fizzy drinks.
  • Fruit fool – made using leftover fruit juices and smoothies.

Access the recipes here and cook them yourself.

Find out more about our highly regarded culinary and hospitality courses here.

Students get a taste of Korean culture ahead of trip to the country

Thirty students from Capital City College Group (CCCG) were given a fascinating insight into Korean culture, ahead of them travelling to the country this summer under the Turing Scheme, the UK’s global study and work programme.

The students discovered more about the East Asian nation and its people, lifestyle and customs when they recently visited the Korean Cultural Centre UK in Westminster.

They will be embarking on a 20-day educational trip to South Korea in July, which will give them the skills and experience they need to thrive in the global workplace of the future

Dr Jungwoo Lee, Director of the Korean Cultural Centre UK, and Ruby James, Event Coordinator at the Korea Tourism Organisation, welcomed the students and gave them an overview of the country.

Ruby referred to Korea’s recent surge in cultural popularity, known as the Korean Wave, including Oscar-winning film Parasite and Netflix TV series Squid Game and Kingdom.

She also gave an insight into the country’s history and traditions, including the four Hs: Hanguel – the Korean alphabet, Hanok – a traditional style of Korean house, Hanbok – traditional Korean clothing, and Hansik – Korean food.

Korean Culture seminar

Students enjoyed trying on some colourful hanbok, explored the centre’s vast archive of Korean films and literature and were in awe of the beauty of the cover artwork on many of the books.

Jack Griffin, 26, who is studying an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Computing at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL), was among the students on the visit.

He said: “It was a really enlightening and enjoyable experience. We were given considerable information about Korean culture and destinations to visit while we are there.

“I found it not only entertaining but also really educational. I enjoyed trying on traditional hanbok, which was a unique experience that I never thought I could do in London.”

The South Korea trip has been funded by the Turing Scheme and is being run in partnership with Keimyung College University (KMCU) in Daegu, Kyungbuk College and JEI University in Incheon.

Students have been participating in weekly Korean language classes at college to give them some basic communication skills to enhance their experience.

CCCG has proudly partnered with the Korean Cultural Centre UK on a number of occasions, including a popular Korean themed menu week at Westminster Kingsway College’s Brasserie restaurant and hosting Korean cooking classes, which will be returning later this year.

WestKing is home to one of the UK’s best hospitality and culinary schools and recently partnered with the Korean Embassy to host a cook-along with American-Korean celebrity chef Judy Joo. Watch the Kimchi cook-along with chef Judy Joo.

Seungeun Chang, Head of International Development and Operations at CCCG, said: “The visit to the Korean Cultural Centre UK was a perfect way to introduce our students to Korea. They’re now feeling even more excited about their upcoming trip.”

Skills Minister declares UK is ‘hungry for skills’ and urges employers to back apprenticeships

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Alex Burghart MP declared the UK economy is “hungry for skills” at a construction and engineering conference during National Apprenticeship Week

Mr Burghart praised Capital City College Group (CCCG), which hosted the event, and employers for providing valuable careers and training opportunities when he spoke on 9 February.

CCCG’s apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training (CCCT) works with 950 employers to provide high-quality training to 2,000 apprentices each year.

Around 50 representatives from the construction and engineering industries attended the event at Westminster Kingsway College, which is also part of CCCG along with City and Islington College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL).

Companies and organisations in attendance included Alstom, Ardmore, Hitachi, CBRE, CITB, Denbre, Berkeley Group, North London Waste Authority, Mitie, Peabody, AECOM, Bowmer and Kirkland, Taylor Woodrow, Vistry Partnerships, Wates, McLaren, TfL, Perfect Welding, Building Heroes, the Greater London Authority, Enfield Council, Islington Council and the Royal Academy for Engineering.

CCCT works with employers across London to offer apprenticeship training in brickwork, plumbing, electrical installations, engineering and rail engineering.

Mr Burghart said: “It’s been a real pleasure for me going around the country meeting scores of people in different stages of their careers and lives who are really benefitting from this extraordinary way of working, whose time is really coming again.

“I don’t remember a time in my lifetime when the economy was so hungry for skills. We’ve got over a million vacancies out there, we’ve got a huge host of opportunities for people to take advantage of, and it’s going to be apprenticeships that are going to help people make the jump into those opportunities.”

Dr Rhys Morgan, Director of Engineering and Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering, called on employers to support the development of T Levels and apprenticeships, and spoke of the need to recruit a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

He said: “We have to make these qualifications work, they are here to stay. I hope you will continue to work with CCCG and the wider education sector to embrace these qualifications and support our young people, who really need to help with the net-zero skills challenges and the economy.”

Construction and engineering apprenticeship training predominantly takes place at CONEL’s large, fully equipped workshops at its centres in Tottenham and Enfield.

The college’s Enfield Centre is home to the London Rail Academy and new London Welding Academy run in partnership with Paddington, part of construction giant Ardmore.

Adrian White, General Manager at Ardmore, said: “Ardmore Group has long been committed to providing opportunities for local people to train in well-paid, highly-skilled jobs, and the London Welding Academy is a brilliant example of that.

“We’re delighted to have been able to open this academy within a matter of months, meaning we can develop our own committed and motivated workforce.”

The London Rail Academy provides apprenticeship training with large employers including Alstom, Hitachi, Eurostar, Docklands Light Railway and London Underground.

CONEL also provides rail track maintenance apprenticeships with London Underground.

Alstom has been training apprentices with CONEL for more than four years on its rail technician training programme.

Alstom apprentice Brandon Hargreaves, 23, said: “Working with the teachers at CONEL has allowed me to learn so much and excel in a subject I am passionate about. Being thrown into the reality of the working world in London has been an amazing experience.”

Lee Bird, Learning and Development Apprenticeship Manager at Alstom, said: “What makes CONEL different from other providers is that they listen to our requirements and have the expertise to modify the apprenticeship content and delivery to meet our business needs.”

CONEL has recently partnered with Enfield Council and Vistry Partnerships to run a new Skills Academy to provide construction training for the Meridian Water regeneration project, which will build 10,000 new homes in Enfield.

CCCT’s provision also includes employability courses with organisations including Women into Construction to provide more opportunities for women to enter the sector. Find out more about our Construction and Engineering apprenticeships.

Find out more about our Construction and Engineering apprenticeships.

Blog: Have YOU considered an apprenticeship instead of university?

Would you like to gain new skills and new knowledge, and get paid while you’re studying for it? An apprenticeship could be the answer. This week is the 15th annual National Apprenticeships Week, a celebration of how apprenticeships help people of all ages develop the skills and knowledge that they need for a rewarding career.

To start the week, Jackie Chapman (Managing Director of Capital City College Training) shares her thoughts on why school leavers should seriously consider an apprenticeship instead of A Levels, T Levels, BTECs or even university, and why it’s a great option for people looking to change careers too.

As National Apprenticeship Week starts, I am reminded of the confusing range of choices available to those leaving school and looking to start the next stage in their lives.

Whether you are 16 or 18 years old, you’ve just had an experience unlike any other generation, making it essential that you have the right support to make the best choices now, which will have a positive impact on your future career.

For some of you, taking A Levels or going to college, and then on to university, may be the best choice, but others would do well by going into work – and in today’s economy there are plenty of options for those who want to! Faced with staff shortages in many key industries, employers are crying out for staff and there has never been a better time to look for a job.

For once, the power is in your hands.

So why should new career starters – or older people changing careers for that matter – apply for an apprenticeship, or ask a perspective employer to put them on an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships used to only be available in ‘hands-on’ professions like plumbing and construction, but nowadays you can be an apprentice in a much wider choice of occupations. , from accountancy and professional services, to business, HR, engineering and childcare. You can even do apprenticeships with us in the hospitality sector – as a chef for example – or in visual effects in the TV of film industry.

Apprenticeships are for everyone and every age too, not just 16 or 18 year olds. We have people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who’ve changed careers and are now doing apprenticeships in HR, Procurement, Management, Adult Care and many other jobs.

In my opinion, being an apprentice is one of the best ways to ensure that you have ongoing support in a new role, because as an apprentice:

1. You have to be given guaranteed time from work to study

2. You have to have a workplace mentor who will guide you

3. You have a coach or tutor from the training provider to support you

4. You have the chance to learn and develop your skills, with managers understanding your development needs.

Great employers recognise the important of supporting staff, so if you are considering employment – check if they offer apprenticeships!

You might be asking how an apprenticeship works and who can do one. As long as you are 16 or older and have not already completed a qualification in a similar role, you can be an apprentice. Apprentices are employed and have time away from work (usually one day per week) to study for a

qualification. To be an apprentice, you can be a new or current employee and are always paid at least the minimum apprentice wage (many employers pay their apprentices more). And, as you’re studying while you’re working, you could also receive a range of travel and council tax discounts too.

An apprenticeship could be your ticket to success. Find out more about our apprenticeships here.

Capital City College Group launches four Mayor of London Academy Hubs to help Londoners get into work

Capital City College Group (CCCG) has launched four new Mayor of London Academy Hubs to fast-track Londoners into work by giving them the skills they need for jobs to drive the capital’s economic recovery from the COVID pandemic.

London’s largest college group has secured £1.5 million to run hubs in Digital, Hospitality, Creative and Green industries after successful bids to the Mayor’s Academies Programme.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan set out plans for the programme in March 2021 as part of the London Recovery Plan to support vulnerable communities and rebuild the city.

The £44 million programme will support Londoners to get jobs by providing them with flexible work-based training programmes to enable them to gain and develop skills for careers in industries that are vital for London’s long-term prosperity.

The hubs will work with employers to create these programmes to ensure they best support their recruitment needs and help them to meet the challenges they face as the capital exits the COVID crisis.

Each hub will have a strong emphasis on supporting those from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds including black and ethnic minorities, young people, people earning below the London living wage, those with disabilities, the over 50s, single parents, caregivers and the unemployed.

CCCG comprises City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL), as well as apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training.

Each of the four hubs will be led by one of the Group’s colleges.

Creative Academy Hub

The screen industries employ around 210,000 people in the UK with a turnover of £40 billion a year and is expanding at three times the rate of the wider UK economy. Run by Westminster Kingsway College in partnership with Film London and Middlesex University London, this mega-hub will focus on the film and TV, animation, visual effects and gaming industries. It will provide training in the creative and technical skills needed to enter this growing sector. More than 20 employers have already backed the hub including WarnerMedia, NBC Universal, Netflix, Sony Pictures, Pinewood Studios, Shepperton Studios, Twickenham Studios, Framestore, Blue Zoo Animation, Jellyfish, DNEG and Sports Interactive.

Find out more about Creative Academy Hub here.

Digital Academy Hub

London has been at the epicentre of the UK’s digital revolution. Investment in the tech industry in the UK in 2021 more than doubled on the previous year to £29.4 billion. With nine in 10 organisations having a shortage of tech skills, the Digital Academy Hub, led by Westminster Kingsway College, will equip Londoners with the skills they need to succeed, with a focus on careers in software development, cybersecurity, data analytics and cloud-based development, as well as providing IT training to support all business sectors. Employer partners include 01 Founders, a tuition-free coding school that partnered with CCCG in June 2021, Verizon, Dentsu, Gigl, TechSkills and Profusion.

Find out more about Digital Academy Hub here.

Green Academy Hub

More than 217,000 new workers will be needed in construction and green industries by 2025. The Green Academy Hub, led by the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL), will help meet this demand and support the UK’s target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The hub will focus on modern sustainable construction methods and the use of green technology for the new-build and retrofitting sectors, and the expansion of EV charging points. CONEL’s employer partners already include the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), Morgan Sindall, Wates, Peabody, Vistry Partnerships, Absolute Solar, Retrofit Works, and the North London Waste Authority.

Find out more about the Green Academy Hub here.

Hospitality Academy Hub

Hospitality is one of London’s most important industries employing 568,000 people and contributing £17 billion to the capital’s economy a year. Located at Westminster Kingsway College, home to one of the UK’s most prestigious culinary schools, the Hospitality Academy Hub will support those looking for careers as chefs or in front of house, housekeeping and security roles. The hub has been backed by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Craft Guild of Chefs, Institute of Hospitality, UK Hospitality and The Worshipful Company of Cooks. Employer partners include The Ivy Group, Sodexo, Fuller’s, CH&CO, Lexington and Atul Kochhar Restaurant Group.

Find out more about the Hospitality Academy Hub here.

Gary Hunter, Deputy Executive Principal of Capital City College Group, said: “We are very proud to be part of the Mayor’s Academies Programme to provide Londoners with the core skills that employers need to get the capital back on its feet after the pandemic.

“Our four hubs – Creative, Digital, Green and Hospitality – will provide practical work-based training designed, delivered supported with our industry partners that will fit around people’s lifestyles, with a particular focus on those who have been hit hardest by COVID, instilling them with workplace confidence and the skills to move into exciting new careers.”

The hubs are CCCG’s latest commitment to help more people into work, which also includes a new Skills Academy in partnership with Enfield Council and Vistry Partnerships to provide construction training for the £25 million Meridian Water regeneration in Enfield.

CCCG also recently launched the London Welding Academy alongside its London Rail Academy in Enfield with the number of welders in the UK having fallen by a quarter in five years.

Find out more about CCCG Skills Academies here.

Minister hails Visionnaires ‘crucial role’ in boosting entrepreneurship as it rolls out across the UK

Minister for Small Business Paul Scully MP gave his overwhelming support as 12 colleges officially united to launch Visionnaires across the UK during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Visionnaires is a not-for-profit organisation that has already helped more than 400 people start new businesses through its free programmes run through Capital City College Group (CCCG).

Earlier this year CCCG, which comprises three colleges and an apprenticeship provider, formed a community interest company with United Colleges Group, South Thames Colleges Group and NCG to bring Visionnaires to eight further colleges.

The new partnership was officially launched at Westminster Kingsway College on 11 November.

Mr Scully said: “Visionnaires has already enabled innovative entrepreneurs to prosper through networking and support. These are initiatives that the Government strongly supports because being able to draw on the experience of others and connect with likeminded people is so invaluable whether businesses are starting up or scaling up.

“Projects like Visionnaires play a crucial role in complementing the support that’s given by the Government, for example our new Help to Grow programmes that will boost productivity by supporting SMEs across the UK with skills development and reaching new customers.

“It’s this Government’s ambition to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business. We want to create an enterprise culture where everyone who wants to be an entrepreneur has the confidence to start a business regardless of their background.

“I’m grateful to Visionnaires, and organisations like them, which can reach out to all parts of our community and help business founders get the practical help they need.”

CCCG, which comprises City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College, College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London and apprenticeship provider Capital City College Training, has been running Visionnaires programmes since 2019.

Visionnaires will now also be available through City of Westminster College, College of North West London, South Thames College, Carshalton College, Kingston College, Lewisham College, Southwark College and Carlisle College.

The partnership has also been backed by Cllr Matthew Green, Cabinet Member for Business, Licensing and Planning at Westminster City Council, and Sophie Shrubsole, Director of Operations at Westminster Business Council.

Visionnaires’ support extends beyond the classroom with a business incubator offering further support to participants’ businesses after they have completed the programme.

Dani Glasser joined Visionnaires and launched her own business GetStuft selling healthy and nutritious food platters online from a kitchen in Clapham, south London, earlier this year.

She said: “I previously ran a digital marketing agency with a friend in Australia but decided to make a change and follow my passion for food. I also had a catering business and wanted to take what I’d learnt from that and refine it into a more streamlined model to get food out on demand.

“I joined Visionnaires because I wanted to set up a business with scale in mind, rather than with a small business mentality, and give it a strong foundation with the best chance of growth. It’s been great having someone help me fill gaps in my knowledge, such as finance, and think about things in different ways, which has really helped shape the future direction of GetStuft.”

In the run-up to the launch, Visionnaires hosted a series of introductory masterclasses on How to Succeed, Sale and Growth, Money and The Perfect Pitch, featuring panels from business leaders and entrepreneurs, including previous Visionnaires participants.

Helen Tomazos, from Maida Vale, west London, took part in the masterclasses to get some advice on starting a business selling Greek pastries inspired by her parents’ Cypriot background.

She said: “The format to the masterclasses was very good, the questions were precise, and the feedback has given me the motivation I need to formulate and kick-start my business idea.

“One of the panel’s quotes was ‘just start’ but they were also realistic that it requires hard work and commitment and there will be highs and lows. They’ve also invited me to observe their place of businesses, which is phenomenal. It’s absolutely inspired me.”

Visionnaires was established by Pablo Lloyd OBE, a social entrepreneur with 20 years’ experience in starting and leading purpose-driven organisations.

He said: “The UK is seeing a real surge in people wanting to set up their own business. Visionnaires has already helped many new entrepreneurs from our diverse communities turn that dream into a reality. Every day we’re helping more of them get their ideas off the ground in our innovative programmes.

“I am delighted that Capital City College Group, United Colleges Group, South Thames Colleges Group and NCG have joined forces to expand Visionnaires as an inclusive community of best practice. This will lead to more exciting new start-ups and support the UK’s economic recovery.”

September and October political round-up

As one of the UK’s largest further education organisations, it is important for Capital City College Group to engage with politicians as well as others in the education sector as well as in the wider economy. In particular, MPs of all parties help shape public opinion and Ministers in Government make decisions that affect the funding of colleges and the lives of our staff and students, so meeting them and explaining to them the important work that we do, is very valuable.

The first two months of the new academic year have seen us meet – and impress – many new political contacts and make some friends along the way. We’ve also commented on Government announcements and London’s skills gap. Here’s a summary of our activities.

In September, our Chief Executive Roy O’Shaughnessy published a joint blog with Joysy John, the CEO of the 01Founders coding school which we are a key partner of. The blog, published by the business campaigning group London First discussed what we and 01Founders are doing to help bridge the two digital skills gaps which London is facing. You can read the blog here: https://www.londonfirst.co.uk/news-publications/blog/mind-the-gap-two-ways-that-were-helping-london-bridge-the-digital-skills

Also in September, the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, Nickie Aiken, visited Westminster Kingsway College’s Victoria centre. The centre is home to the college’s renowned School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts and Nickie spent time with us discussing a number of areas including the range and high quality of the college’s hospitality courses, as well as how we helped students continue to learn during the lockdowns caused by the COVID pandemic.

In the middle of October, we had the pleasure of hosting almost 200 people – again at Victoria – at a big event organised by the Department for Education for their stakeholders. The event was a unique opportunity for the group to raise its profile among so many important political contacts at the same time.

As Neil Cox, Head of Policy and Communications for the Group explains: “The event’s attendees was a who’s who of education politicians and opinion formers. As well as the new Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi MP and his ministerial team, the Permanent Secretary to the Department for Education was there too, and the guest list had people from early years, schools organisations, colleges and the higher education sector. We talked to many of these people and were delighted to give Mr Zahawi a chance to visit the kitchens and chat to some of the students who were working on the food for the guests.”

The event was a great success and we had a lot of wonderful feedback from the DfE and the guests, who were very impressed by the students’ professionalism.

Also in October, we met Kate Green MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Education. Kate is Labour’s key education spokesperson and she spent three hours with some of our senior managers – again at our Victoria centre, which is our closest site to Parliament – discussing a number of important areas including:

  • Apprenticeships and what we think of the current levy system for funding them
  • The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, especially the role of colleges and other key local stakeholders in the Local Skills Improvement Plans
  • The complex and short-term nature of how further education is funded and how we can encourage a longer-term and more sustainable settlement.

Kate also enjoyed a tour of the kitchens at Victoria and spoke to some of our culinary students about their studies.

And at the end of the month, we commented on the Chancellor’s budget and Comprehensive Spending Review announcement. You can read what CEO Roy O’Shaughnessy thought of it here: https://www.capitalccg.ac.uk/our-response-to-the-chancellor-of-the-exchequers-budget-announcement

Over the coming months, we will continue our political engagement activities. If you would like to find out more about our political activity or would like us to work with you, please contact Neil Cox, Head of Policy and Communications at neil.cox@capitalccg.ac.uk

Colleges unite to roll out Visionnaires to help aspiring entrepreneurs start their own business

Twelve colleges have united to become founding partners of Visionnaires, a not-for profit organisation with the potential to help thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs across the UK.

Visionnaires provides free programmes for people wanting to start their own business or become self-employed, which include workshops, seminars, resources, support and advice.

Figures show that:

· Nearly two thirds of UK adults want to set up their own business

· 83 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds dream of self-employment

· More than 650,000 start-ups were founded in the UK from 2019-20

· Start-ups have created 40 per cent of new jobs in the UK.

Visionnaires was originally founded within Capital City College Group (CCCG) in 2019, with United Colleges Group, South Thames Colleges Group and NCG joining to form a community interest company in August this year.

CCCG already runs programmes through City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College (WestKing) and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL), and its apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training (CCCT).

The new partner college groups are now rolling out programmes at eight further colleges – City of Westminster College, College of North West London, South Thames College, Carshalton College, Kingston College, Lewisham College, Southwark College and Carlisle College.

Colleges from across the UK are invited to join Visionnaires to encourage entrepreneurship in their communities and grow local economies.

Visionnaires has already helped more than 400 entrepreneurs from many diverse backgrounds start new businesses. A huge 96 per cent of participants have endorsed the programme as ‘excellent’.

Participants take part in practical workshops and receive expert advice and resources on topics including marketing, selling, finance and business planning. They can also promote their business in the Marketplace section of the Visionnaires website and continue to receive support and resources from Visionnaires indefinitely.

Visionnaires also runs workshops to inspire entrepreneurship among young people.

Nicolas and Julia Vendramin launched their fashion business LABELL-D after joining Visionnaires. The company sells collections from top designers made from recycled and sustainable materials.

Nicolas, 40, who previously worked for fashion houses including Hugo Boss, Bally and Harrys of London, said: “The fashion industry is very polluting in its nature and we wanted to do something about that. We’ve always been passionate about sustainable living and decided to set-up our own company to sell sustainable fashion.

“As I’ve always worked in big companies and thought big too – 10 steps ahead – but Wendy, my Visionnaires tutor, brought me down to earth and reminded me that a new business has to start from zero. The six-week course she taught was very pragmatic and helped me focus on the basics and get them right first. It was also great to learn with other entrepreneurs.”

Jay Patel, 29, joined Visionnaires to help him start up his culinary business Flavour Street to enable cooks to sell and deliver their own home-cooked food.

He said: “I have always been a massive foodie. I have family in hospitality and always been around it, but had never really done anything about it. I think the marketing part of the programme was the most helpful for me. I learnt how to plane out a campaign in a structured way. Also, I learnt a lot from the other participants on the programme too.”

Visionnaires’ CEO is social entrepreneur Pablo Lloyd OBE.

He said: “We’ve been running Visionnaires in partnership with CCCG for the past two years where we have seen a lot of demand and very encouraging feedback from participants. We have now developed a rich ecosystem of support for people who want to start their own business or become self-employed.

“Over the past year a number of other colleges expressed an interest in working with Visionnaires, and off the back of that I am delighted the programme is now available with 12 colleges to enable many more people in their communities to fulfil their entrepreneurial hopes and dreams and contribute to their local economy. We are now in discussion with other colleges across the UK to reach even more budding entrepreneurs.”

Click here to find out more about Visionnaires.