| News

The Manchester College celebrated for its innovation in careers education

We are delighted to announce that The Manchester College has won The Careers & Enterprise Company Award for Innovation at the annual Association of Colleges Beacon Awards.

The award recognises a college-wide approach to careers education, advice and guidance. The Manchester College picked up the award for offering students a seamless, holistic experience on their pathways to work-readiness.

In two years, the Team has engaged with over 1,000 employers and sourced hundreds of meaningful placements for students. Many have resulted in jobs with high-profile employers such as The Ivy, Hilton and Joseph Holt.

This year, 100% of 16-19 year-old learners at the college have undertaken quality work experience.

The judges were also impressed by the colleges’ creative approach to employer engagement. This included activities such as:

  • a hotel takeover by Service Retail Industries,
  • Business and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners,
  • a ‘Day in the Life’ event with Construction employers,
  • catering work experience with celebrity chefs,
  • interviewing key politicians at Northern Power Futures
  • live briefs co-created with the digital, media and fashion industries.


John Yarham, interim Chief Executive at The Careers & Enterprise Company, said:

“Congratulations to The Manchester College on this thoroughly deserved award. It was really inspiring to hear about everything the College is doing to make sure that its students are prepared for the world of work.

“It’s particularly welcome to see how collaboration – with local government, local employers and with other colleges – sits at the heart of The Manchester College’s careers work.

“We hope this award can now provide an inspiration to colleges across the country.” 


Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said: 

"Greater Manchester Combined Authority has been a long standing partner of The Manchester College in their mission to offer the very best careers provision to all learners and we are thrilled that their dedication and innovation has been recognised." 

"The college have led by example and have increased the standing of careers not only in their college but helped drive a wider collaborative across the Greater Manchester FE sector.   The college’s commitment to strategic collaboration with their Enterprise Coordinator, Adviser and other Careers Leaders through the Greater Manchester Enterprise Adviser Network and Careers Hub has ensured the effective sharing of best practice and CPD opportunities as part of the Bridge GM Community of Practice."


Julie Nerney, Chair of Association of Colleges Charitable Trust said:

“This college has shown great innovation in highly effective engagement with schools, employers and other agencies, in providing learners with excellent impartial careers education, advice and guidance.

“Enabling learners to make informed choices about their progression to further study and training, including apprenticeships, will have a lasting effect on the rest of their lives.”

Now in its 25th year, the AoC Beacon Awards highlight excellence and innovation in colleges, and help share best practice across the sector. The awards also promote the interdependence of colleges, businesses and professional, and voluntary organisations.

Why The Manchester College won

The Manchester College has an innovative whole-team approach to careers education, advice and guidance. The College integrates curriculum learning, careers champions, employability opportunities and welfare support to offer students a seamless, holistic experience on their pathways to work-readiness.

With over 5,000 post-16 learners across multiple campuses, The Manchester College is one of the largest Further Education colleges in the UK.

Despite its size, the college’s Careers Plan focuses on ensuring that every student has meaningful encounters with employers and develops career management skills.

A whole college approach

The Careers, Employability and Welfare Department leads the careers programme and in 2019, the college achieved all eight Gatsby Benchmarks. It regularly reviews progress through termly Compass completions and is continuously developing.

The college achieved its success in career guidance by setting out the long-term goals, identifying the changes needed to achieve them and creating a whole college approach to careers.

The college is part of the Greater Manchester Enterprise Adviser Network and lead college for the Greater Manchester Careers Hub.  Working collaboratively with two other FE colleges in the Careers Hub they share best practice and support FE Careers Leaders from across Greater Manchester to improve their careers provision.

Raising aspirations and challenging stereotypes

To raise aspirations and challenge stereotypes, there was a revived focus on targeting specific groups and individuals with bespoke careers activities and informing them about progression to further study, training, including apprenticeships or employment.

Careers advisers, curriculum staff and achievement tutors provide tailored personal guidance at significant points which is aspirational and motivational in theme and delivery.

The college offers tutorials and activities to actively challenge stereotypical thinking and raise aspirations, such as Women and Girls into Engineering and STEM subjects.

The Careers Department works proactively with the Local Authority on the progression of SEND and vulnerable students. 220 students with additional learning support needs were recorded on APS during the last academic year.

Careers action plans for each students

Records are kept from the first point of contact, or from the point of transition, on an Action Planning System (APS) which was developed in-house.

The system is used to record student participation in career interventions such as labour market information workshops, employer talks and careers fairs by using electronic scanning equipment linked to students’ ID badges. Students have access to their records and action plans to support their career development.

The Department monitors and analyses student progression data on education, training and employment destinations via a contracted company and also UCAS destination reports. Management information systems within the college also track student retention and attendance and are linked with APS.

Influencing careers decisions

Over half of 16-18 year olds at Level 1 (54%) and Level 2 (53%) progress to a higher level of study at the college. 46% of 16-18 year olds studying at Level 3 leave the college to an external destination.

Feedback from students is gathered on a regular basis, and students comment on the effectiveness of the career guidance they have received; and how the careers programme has influenced their career decisions.