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Creating brighter futures

Weston College has a wide range of courses to suit all learning styles 

Weston College is an award-winning college of further and higher education in Weston-super-Mare. It provides education and vocational training to nearly 30,000 learners across the country. 

We put the learner first and are entrepreneurial in our approach and innovative in our thinking. As a college, we are ambitious and aspirational and are responsive to the needs of students, staff, businesses, and the community. 

We are Weston College. We are Creating Brighter Futures.

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Latest news and developments at Weston College

There is always so much going on across our various campuses and courses. Stay up to date on our latest news
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Neil and Niall smiling at cameraI have been working with closely with Weston College on several exciting projects, all with the aim of supporting young people to kickstart their careers.

After having a successful career and now running my own business (Neil’s Data Consultancy), I really wanted to give something back to help students think about what they might like to do, along with giving some practical tips along the way.

Weston-super-Mare is in my blood and as a former student of Weston Sixth Form, I could not think of a better educational partner to help provide that advice and support.

Over the last year I have been involved in exciting initiatives with Weston College, which has really benefited myself as an employer, but more importantly, young people looking for an opportunity.

I started off by getting involved in Kickstart, offering two placements to local people that were looking for an opportunity. I offered them the chance to become Assistant Accountants, and they were involved in everything; client management, bookkeeping, VAT returns, payroll submissions, accounts preparation work and management reporting production.

It had a huge impact on the business, as not only did they complete their work to a high standard, but it also released me to work on other areas of the business, such as marketing, networking and providing valuable business advisory services to clients.

I was so impressed that I offered one of the people on placement a permanent job, and they continue to thrive within the organisation.

It has been fantastic to give someone with no prior experience an opportunity and support them through training and sharing knowledge that I have developed over the years in industry. To now see them in full time employment and furthering their development with a funded chartered accountancy course, has been highly rewarding personally, as well as hugely beneficial to the business.

We did not want our work with Weston College to end there, so we decided to get involved with their new Career Excellence Hubs and provide learners with opportunities to develop key skills required by industry and give them a taste of the real world of work.

It’s important for industry and education to cross over to ensure that the young people in Weston have the skills they need for the future. Things have moved on a lot since I was a student and so it's important to understand the different paths a student can now take from education into employment.

On top of this, there are some hugely talented students out there and through something like an apprenticeship programme with Weston College, we can help nurture and train individuals to be incredibly valuable assets to our businesses.

If like me, you run a business and want to access a new pool of talent, then I highly recommend contacting the team at Weston College, you won’t be disappointed.

Neil Criddle, Neil’s Data Consultancy

If you would like to become a Future Talent Business Partner like Neil, you can find out how, by clicking here. 

Female Software Developer at workplace

Are you interested in pursuing a career in Software Development? Read our top tips on how you can get started today! 

What does a Software Developer do? 

Software Developers are an essential part of our ever-expanding digital world, but what do they actually do? Well, the simplest answer is, a lot! Software Developers’ work is vast and diverse. That film you watched on Netflix last night? The tweet you just sent from your phone? The new video game you cannot wait to play? All of that is thanks to Software Developers!  

Software Developers use their specialist programming skills to design, develop and test new software. This could be for a variety of areas - from online shopping retailers like ASOS, to social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok. The job of a Software Developer is to ensure the user’s experience always reaches optimum levels by creating code, fixing bugs and continuously assessing the software to make improvements and adaptations. 

Average Software Developer salary: £24K - £70K (According to Gov.uk

Software Developer jobs:  

  • Applications Developer 

  • Web Designer 

  • Game Developer 

  • Software Engineer 

Does this sound like your kind of job? Read on to find out how to get there! 

The Best Place to Start 

To begin your journey towards a career in Software Development, find a course that will start from the beginning and support you to learn and hone the skills you need. Our T Level in Digital: Production, Design and Development or Software Development Technician Apprenticeship would be great places to start! A lot of jobs in the industry also require degree level education to access those higher progression routes. Luckily, there are a number of relevant courses available here in Weston-super-Mare through University Centre Weston (UCW): BSc (Hons) Applied Computing and Digital User Experience (UX) Degree Apprenticeship. 

The BSc (Hons) Applied computing programme is a full-time 3 year degree that is delivered in partnership with the West of England Institute of Technology – designed to collaboratively tackle skill shortages by providing relevant courses that directly link to industry demands. 

Decide on Your Goals 

Before you embark on your Software Development journey, have a think about where you see yourself in 3-5 years time. Do you want to work for an education provider or a game development company? Would you prefer to work in an office or remotely? Maybe you see yourself working freelance or for an agency?  

Deciding what you want out of your career will help you navigate your training. Perhaps you need to think about a specific area you should develop your skills in. For example, if you want to pursue a career in a marketing, do you need to grow your understanding of GDPR and how information is properly stored? 

Once you have a clear idea of where you want to go, you can streamline and personalise your training or studies to better suit your goals.  

Learn the Language 

One of the most crucial ingredients in becoming a Software Developer is learning a programming language! For a successful career in this industry, you will need a good core understanding of one or more of the following:  
 
Java - is a programming language that works across a multitude of platforms including Android and the internet – primarily used for developing server-side applications. 
 
Python – Generally considered the simplest and easiest to learn, Python is an excellent place to start if you’re new to the world of programming! 
 
C/C++ - Used for a wide range of programming including software engineering, data structures, game programming, developing browsers, operating systems and applications. 
 
Scala – Developed as a 'new and improved’ version of Java, Scala is an object-oriented language used for functional programming and strong static systems. 

Find Your Niche 

While you study and improve your skills in the art of developing software, start to consider what you, as a Software Developer, want your niche to be. A niche is essentially a specialism – something that you’re great at, that will make employers and clients want YOU.  

Maybe you want to progress into a career in web design, so gaining a fully comprehensive flare in Wordpress or other content management systems (CMS) like Squarespace or Wix would be great for your portfolio!  

Here are some more examples of areas you might find your niche: 

  • App Design/Development 

  • Data Science 

  • Cybersecurity 

Produce Your Portfolio  

Make sure you’re collating everything you create into a portfolio! Think of your portfolio as an extension of your CV, something that will let you say, “I am an incredible Software Developer, and this is why!”  

As you progress and develop, start to refine and curate your portfolio to reflect your absolute best work – ensuring that work is in-line with the Software Development jobs you want to apply for.  

What should my portfolio include? 

  • Name and contact information 

  • Link to your CV 

  • Examples of your highest quality work 

 

If you stick to these top tips, along with committing time and effort into your studies, you’ll be a Software Developer before you know it! 

To explore our options in Computing and Digital Technologies click here

To find out more about UCW’s Higher Education opportunities in Software Development, click here

 

Bethan Walker receiving award at Business Awards

My name is Bethan, and I am the proud owner of Simply Green, a zero-waste shop in Nailsea. The premise of the shop is to encourage customers to reuse and cut down on single-use plastic. We encourage the use of bringing your own containers to refill with however much you need of each product, with the price you pay being dependent on weight, resulting in the whole process being more cost effective! When sourcing the products, I try to ensure they are local suppliers, as well as ethically produced. My aim is to expand my range to allow customers to buy even more products with no packaging.

I grew up locally, and always spent my time outside, which I think is what subconsciously kick started my interest in protecting the environment. I’d used zero waste shops previously and really enjoyed the style of shopping, especially knowing it’s guilt-free on the environment!

I have been involved with Weston College in multiple ways; one of which was providing supported work experience placements for leaners with SEND from Weston College through the ‘Into Work’ initiative, in both Simply Green shops in Nailsea and Portishead. I have three leaners helping with the running of both shops and are a hugely valuable asset to the company. They are great at chatting to customers and allow me to catch up on things I don’t normally have the chance to when working by myself.

I would definitely recommend taking on work experience learners as they are a huge help to the everyday running of the business, and it benefits them just as much as they are gaining workplace experience which will help them in their future, as well as confidence in themselves. Additionally, the initiative provides specialist knowledge and advice, and carefully matches your business to the learner who will support you the best and meet both sets of needs to ensure everyone is happy! The whole scheme is very carefully pieced together, and it results in an unmissable opportunity.

My involvement in this scheme lead to a nomination for Disability Confident Employer of the Year at the Business Awards, which was a huge surprise, but wonderful for getting the recognition for the business, but more importantly, the learners and their development of their workplace skills to help unlock their future!

The second way I have been involved with Weston College was through the Accelerate Project, funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund. I’d heard about the initiative through multiple sources, including Instagram and having been contacted by the college about the work experience learners. The aim was hugely beneficial to myself and my business in advising smaller local businesses through free short-term training and workshops, all which helped me understand my business better, and make difficult decisions I would have struggled to make by myself.

Due to my involvement in the Accelerate Project, I even managed to win the Accelerate Participant of the Year award at the 2022 Business Awards, which was a huge surprise to me!

My involvement with Weston College has been highly beneficial to both my business, and I am so grateful for the support I received from everyone there.

Bethan - Simply Green

If you or your business is interested in getting involved with supported internships, click here!

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