Former Warrington Collegiate students are proving that vocational qualifications open just as many doors, if not more, than A Levels after finding their way to success in a range of competitive industries.
There’s a common misconception that BTEC qualifications are worth less than A Levels but this could not be further from the truth.
Vocational qualifications offer a more practical, career related approach to learning and are an excellent choice for all students, whether you are choosing to progress into employment or higher education.
They can be studied at Levels 1 to 3 and offer a mix of theory and practice, including an element of work experience, coursework and assignments.
People often say that you can’t get to university without A Levels but BTEC National Diplomas are equivalent to A Levels and attract UCAS points which count towards entry to Degree and Higher Education programmes at college or university.
For example, did you know that BTEC National Extended Diploma achieved at Triple Distinction grade attracts 360 UCAS points, equivalent to three A Levels at grade A?
Employers also value vocational courses just as much as A Levels.
Almost half of recruiting employers rate candidates having relevant vocational qualifications as critical or significant, according to the Employer Perspectives Survey 2014, with an increasing importance now being placed on both vocational and academic qualifications by employers.
Jamie Findlater is just one former student who found success after studying a vocational course at Warrington Collegiate, taking the skills he learnt at the College to a university degree before making his dream to become a journalist a reality.
Now working as a Sports Reporter at the Grimsby Telegraph in one of the most competitive industries, Jamie owes a lot to the College and the tutors he said helped him throughout his time here.
He said: “I feel the Media course I took at Warrington Collegiate gave me a much better understanding of how to go about getting the career I wanted.
“My tutors encouraged me to write my essays in a journalist style in order to best show my writing skills, something I don’t feel you’d necessarily get at other sixth form colleges.
“They also gave me great insight into the sort of work I’d be doing at university and I found that I had a big head start on everyone else on my degree course when it came to working with cameras and editing thanks to the work I’d done at the Collegiate.”
Like many students, Jamie was unsure which path to follow and toyed with A Levels before enrolling at the College.
“I knew I wanted to go into journalism but I wasn’t sure how best to do it or if the best route to take was to do A Levels and have to take English and maybe just do media on the side,” said Jamie.
“But coming to Warrington Collegiate and studying a BTEC media course was probably the best step I could have taken because I don’t think I would have had the confidence to go to university if I had gone elsewhere.
“By the end of my two years at Warrington Collegiate, I was full of confidence that I could do it. The College gave me the freedom and help I needed to show my skills, and was the perfect preparation for my career.”
Matthew Jennings, who is currently studying Level 3 Performing Arts at the College, previously studied A Levels but decided to move to a vocational course because of the opportunities it offers.
He said: “With a BTEC course you’re able to focus completely on that instead of having to try and do four subjects at once like I had to with A Levels. I only wanted to do drama but I wasn’t able to do that with A Levels and had to take other subjects.
“Here with doing just the one course, I’m able to focus solely on that and put my all into it. I want to go to university and work in the films and studying here has massively helped with my confidence and I feel like I’m ready for that next step.”
Brickwork student Jordan Ireland has progressed from a Level 1 diploma to a Level 2 diploma at the College.
The talented bricklayer has put the practical skills he has learned at the College to good use and scooped a top spot at the SkillBuild North West 2015 with second place.
Callum Stevens studied Level 3 Media at the College. He is now working as a Communications and Marketing Officer for Liverpool Clinical Laboratories.
He said: “The practical skills I gained from the course benefited me more than a purely academic pathway would have because without that I don’t think I would be where I am today. It helped me so much throughout university and work placements and in my career now.
“It’s absolutely invaluable to have those practical skills and the theoretical skills as well.”