18 August 2022

Walsall College students ‘absolutely flying’ with HS2 jobs after T-level success

18 August 2022

Walsall College students are “absolutely flying” after celebrating new jobs working on HS2 while becoming some of the first students to receive T-level results.

The college formed a partnership with HS2’s construction partner Balfour Beatty Vinci when the qualifications were first introduced in 2020 – and six “excited” students have now been offered a five-year apprenticeship with them.

One of those students, Jake Flood, 18, achieved a distinction in his T-level for design, surveying and planning.

Asked if he was excited about his career prospects, he told the PA news agency: “Yes I am.

Walsall College T-level student Jake Flood celebrates achieving a distinction (Walsall College/PA)

“With this result it now means I can go on to my degree apprenticeship in tunnel surveying, which is a civil engineering degree.

“So I’m really looking forward to what comes next.”

Asked whether he would recommend T-level qualifications to younger students, he said: “Yes I would.

“I think what I’ve seen with the year below and how they are progressing and obviously what it’s done for me – I couldn’t hate on the course at all.”

Aqsah Ahmed, 18, who achieved a distinction in her design, surveying and planning T-level, told PA she was proud of her results after finding studying during the Covid-19 pandemic difficult.

She said: “When I came in I was quite nervous, but when I opened my results I was really happy because I didn’t think I was going to get that grade – so I’m quite proud of myself.

Walsall College students Aqash Ahmed (right) and Ehlana Kainth (centre) open their results (Josh Payne/PA)

“The first year, because Covid hit, it was kind of hard because we were at home doing it online and everything.

“But when we came in and they taught us face to face it was quite easy to understand, and when we did practical work – especially the work placement we did with Balfour Beatty – it gave us a great perspective of the work environment and office, so that was really good.”

Leah Hickman, 18, who secured a degree-level chartered surveyor apprenticeship working on infrastructure on the HS2 route, said she thanked the Government for the T-level funding.

She said: “I’m very happy. I wasn’t expecting a distinction – so, yes, I’m very happy.

“I’ve got to thank my tutors – they definitely kept me going.

“It was a very hard year, especially with Covid, but I’ve got to thank the Government for the T-level funding as well.

“I’m only 18, and already have two years’ experience on my CV, which will really help me to stand out.”

The stories of maturity in the workplace - talking to colleagues, dealing with multimillion-pound contracts - these students are going to be absolutely flying

Walsall College principal Jatinder Sharma said he was “delighted” with his T-level students after some earned jobs working on HS2.

He told PA: “I’m absolutely delighted, why wouldn’t I be?

“The stories of maturity in the workplace – talking to colleagues, dealing with multimillion-pound contracts – these students are going to be absolutely flying.

“So yes, I’m a delighted principal today.”

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