Students find new direction after placement at Richmond tech company

Luke McLaren.

Two students student have found new direction in life after combining their studies with an extended work placement at a Richmond-based tech company.

The Darlington College industrial placements initiative aims to provide Level 3 students with 45 days of work experience as part of their qualification, which can lead to apprenticeships and employment.

For first year Level 3 business students Luke McLaren and Alex Hugill the industrial placements have put them in contact with Richmond e-commerce company Yolo Inc, which is developing a wide portfolio of online retail business.

Both are working in digital marketing and now have a clearer vision of what they would like to do with their lives.

Luke, 17, of Catterick Garrison, said: “I have loved it and Yolo are a really great team to work with.

“I have been writing blogs and posting on social media on the placement and learning all about the world of business and how to set one up on the course.”

Luke hopes one day to move to Calgary in Canada where he would like to develop his own streetwear clothing and accessories brand. “I’ve loved the whole experience and I think it will give me the confidence and skills I’ll need to fulfil my ambitions,” he said.

For Alex, 16, of Northallerton, his time at Darlington College and Yolo has given him new-found drive as he pursues a career in marketing.

“I didn’t really know what to do with my life so chose business studies as it is so wide-ranging,” he said. “Yolo’s office is amazing, very Google-like, fun and chilled out. I’ve been able to write and use my imagination and creativity, covering everything from on-line research to blogs and photo editing. It’s all helped me decide what I’d like to do in the future – something around marketing.”

Yolo founder Scott Woodhead said: “We think the scheme is a great idea and allows young people to have a taster of the real world.

“The students learn that they have responsibilities within the workplace but also a sense of freedom where their creativity can flow.

“The placement scheme has also opened up our eyes to how we can accommodate young people and hopefully create roles within our companies, so that students aren’t struggling to find employment once they leave education.”

Placements give students the opportunity to develop practical and technical skills in a role directly relevant to their course. They also offer employers the chance to ensure that young people are developing the skills and experience that industry need.

So far, Darlington College students have successfully completed industry placements within the engineering, digital, travel and tourism, health and social care and sport sectors. A number have also gone on to full-time employment or apprenticeships within their respective fields.

The industry placement pilot forms part of a new qualification called a T level, giving young people a technical alternative to A levels.

Darlington College marketing and engagement manager Claire Turner said: “These industrial placements have made a real impact on students’ studies and on local businesses who have supported us.

“Both sides are benefiting from their faith in the project at a time when we are seeing a big increase in digital enquiries for apprenticeships. The scheme is proving to be a brilliant introduction to the benefits of full apprenticeships, showcasing the many talents our young people have to offer.”