Engineering offers great career prospects in some of today’s most exciting and dynamic industries. Whether your chosen field is mechanical, chemical, civil or electrical, by doing an engineering course at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, you will gain the skills you need to progress. In addition, CONEL has partnerships with a host of blue chip companies, including Siemens, Bombardier, Hitachi, Thales, Keolis Amey, TFL, Alstom, Miele, Eurostar, Bombardier, Bifa, Virtiv, CBRE, NTAR (National Training Academy for Rail) and many others, which helps students gain valuable work experience.

CONEL’s Strategic Advisor for Engineering Development, Barry Connelly, said: “Our engineering facilities and courses are among the best in the country. Our engineering lecturing staff are all qualified, experienced and industry-trained,. During my time here, we have received several industry achievement awards and endorsements and as a result, our students are well on their way to achieving their career aspirations.

We deliver high quality engineering training programs to a number of Blue Chip companies who we clearly regard as our training partners. We are a centre of excellence for delivering Rail Engineering training and one of our partners is Transport for London (TfL), who have 79 apprentices with us on a number of courses.

TfL’s Teaching, Learning & Assessment Manager, Carley Blythe, said: “Our partnership started when we went out to tender for the contract to deliver our educational needs, in which CONEL was successful in winning.”

“Through regular meetings with the curriculum management, students who attended the Tottenham Centre have successfully achieved the knowledge units that CONEL committed to deliver. We have received confirmation of their good work and through further discussions and centre site visits, we are now sending our apprentices to the Enfield Centre where they will be able to relate their learning even more specifically to the Rail Industry using the infrastructure and equipment at Enfield. 

“Staff at both sites are collaborating well to maintain a productive working relationship which continues to develop. We have gained additional opportunities to share good practice between our own delivery staff and those employed by the college.

“Our relationship is a relatively new one and we are keen to explore how we can work with the college in the future to further develop the partnership and continuously benefit our learners. Our current experience is that the college aims to be responsive to our needs and are working on ways to offer further potential benefits.”

Another key employer partnership is with CBRE, an industry leader in building services management. CBRE’s UK Technical Services Operations Lead, Karl Curtis, said: “CONEL have been committed to working with us on our new apprenticeship programme, showing a huge amount of passion and flexibility in developing a “Best in Class” programme for our future technicians.

“Our partnership developed through engagement sessions and support in developing a new apprenticeship programme. Learners have benefited from this by developing strong foundation skills in engineering during their apprenticeship.

“As an employer we have gained apprentices with core skills that will be ready to move into the workplace and support the business.

“Our 31 London and surrounding county-based Engineering apprentices currently attend CONEL’s Enfield Centre. Our plan is to continue a year-on-year apprentice intake to support our business.”

We caught up with apprentices Catherine Burrin and Pedro Duarte to get their take on Engineering at CONEL.

Catherine is a Thales railway engineering apprentice. She said: “I went to university, studied History and graduated, but didn’t really want to be sat at a desk which is where that career path was going to take me. I took a bit of a chance on a one-year Marine Engineering course and as soon as I started it, I really enjoyed it.”

Catherine at Thales

“After that course I worked abroad for 6 months and when I returned to England, I took the first job I could get. This was as an engineer in a bowling alley, which could only take my engineering career so far. 

“This is when I started applying for apprenticeships, I knew someone who worked at Thales, applied and they got me onto my apprenticeship.

“I’m currently halfway through my Level 3 course, but I aim to progress onto a Level 4 HNC, which they offer here at CONEL. I have an hour-long commute, but what we are getting here makes the journey worth it; I am getting what I need for my career.

“There is a lot of support if you need it here, and there are no stupid questions. Especially the practical side of things, a lot of us have never done this before but the tutors are always there to help us 1-to-1 when needed.”

Pedro, who is an apprentice at CBRE, is completing his Level 3 Building Facilities Maintenance course at our Enfield Centre. He is loving his block release course and is excited by the possibilities of his future career.

Pedro at CBRE

He said: “Working in theatre before, I wasn’t enjoying it, so I looked to do something more practical. When looking into engineering I found CBRE who paired me up with CONEL to deliver my apprenticeship. 

“I like CONEL because the workshop is huge. Right now, we are on the maintenance unit working with hydraulic rams, air conditioning units and using lathes to manufacture various components. I love improving my skills and using engineering machines that I have never used before. 

“CONEL gives you opportunities. My theory tutor is really patient, especially with someone like me who likes to take his time and get it right first time. He will often sit down with me and explain things through to me. This is the same with the tutors in the workshop. They all have a lot of industry knowledge to pass onto us and help develop our careers.”

NSAR (National Skills Academy for Rail) which works with the UK Rail industry, skill sector bodies and Government to ensure the quality of training standards, have said that the overall performance and growth in apprenticeship numbers achieved by CONEL’s Enfield Centre academy is really impressive. This illustrates clearly what can happen when an FE college works hard to create efficient and effective partnerships with employers.

Barry Connelly said: “It’s vitally important to us as a college to develop and maintain our reputation within the industry as a valued training partner that adds real value to companies’ profitability. We believe a successful college/employer partnership must include a number of things, such as: 

  • Personal Connections – the establishment of trust in a partnership is often the result of personal connections between key players;
  • Partnerships must have agreed aims and outcomes, be clear about the responsibilities and contributions of all those involved;
  • Industry experts working alongside college training providers to develop the preferred standards and expectations.

Engineering apprenticeships have seen a revival in popularity and respect within the country. CONEL have engaged with and committed to the needs of employers, adapting to their requirements and standards to change the landscape through partnership and collaboration.”

As the Coronavirus outbreak has spread, many industries have been badly affected, but we are delighted that we’ve been able to help our apprentices to continue to work and learn. As Barry explains: “We have been successfully delivering remote tuition to our learners since the college closed its doors on 20 March. We have been in touch with our partners to inform them of this and they have all confirmed they are happy with these new arrangements.

“Many of our partners have subsequently contacted me to say how pleased they were with the quality of our teaching delivery (keeping their learners on-track where possible) and thanked CONEL for doing a great job.”

As the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak means many throughout the UK are working and studying from home, the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London is offering a wide range of free online distance learning courses to everyone. The college has more than 60 free vocational and practical courses available to study in the comfort and safety of your own home, with more being added all the time – helping people gain new skills and boost their job prospects. CONEL is the only London college with such a wide range of free online courses.

Subject areas include accounting, business, construction, customer service, hospitality, airport operations, engineering, IT and digital skills, modern languages, teaching support, public services, science and sport.

Some of the more unusual courses include storytelling, knitting, creative activities for young children, managing personal finances, how to pitch your business Idea, managing challenging teenagers, getting started in British Sign Language and business in football.

CONEL has been offering free short courses at its centres in Tottenham and Enfield for more than two years, with over half of people who take them going on to study at a higher level. As the college’s Vice Principal Robin Hindley explains: “Our short courses are leading to bigger and better things for many students. Since we introduced them, they have gone from strength to strength, with 60% of those studying on a short course last year staying at CONEL to boost their skills even further, by taking a higher-level course with us.

“Following the COVID-19 lockdown and the closure of our buildings, we wanted to keep giving people the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge – and help families at this difficult time – which is why we’re now offering a wide range of free online short courses.

“All you need to join and learn is a PC, laptop or Mac, tablet or even a smartphone, and access to the internet. We’re committed to making education accessible to as many people as possible, and we hope that many will take advantage of this fantastic and unique offer.”

Many of the new free courses are starting during the week of 20-24 April, with more and new courses being added all the time, so there’s still time to book. See the full range Free Short Courses and sign-up today!

A truly inspirational student, Joe Watson, has overcome a number of barriers in his life to successfully pass the first year of his Media Production Level 3 diploma. Brought up in care and living independently at a young age, he has shown huge commitment and enthusiasm during his studies.

In December 2019, Joe won the Paul Head Excellence Award, (an award in memory of CONEL’s former principal), which recognises learners who have overcome significant barriers to their learning.

We caught up with Joe to ask him about his time at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London so far:

When and why did you join CONEL?

“I joined CONEL back in 2018 when I was looking to find a college that not only had a great media team but also a college that would help me get a foot in the door in the media industry. This qualification will allow me to eventually go to university too.”

How has CONEL helped you develop your skills and knowledge? 

“I had a few self-taught skills, but felt like I really needed to dive deep into media and not just the areas that I was interested in. At CONEL I have learnt about the legal and ethical issues, as well as practical skills like filming a live multi-camera show. I have gained the skills and knowledge that I’ll need to work in the industry at CONEL.”

Has CONEL helped develop you in any other ways? 

“Yes, the college has definitely helped me develop my soft skills, especially my social and communication skills. Being a closed person it was quite a challenge when faced with a group task. I really had to push myself to share my thoughts with my teammates but through the help of the staff and my learning support teacher, I was able to really grow in that aspect.”

Joe’s media tutors say he now demonstrates a real flair and ability to communicate, pitch and develop creative ideas.

You’ve been living in care. How has CONEL supported you through that? 

“CONEL helped me apply for a college bursary that helped support my travel costs as I lived a little way from the college. Being able to receive that fund was really helpful. My amazing form tutor Selda Yuzdik and the rest of the media teachers where aware of my situation and they were amazing in making me feel comfortable and normal and just like any other students, not making my care a big issue. I’m especially grateful to the staff for taking me for who I am, not the label that of a looked-after child. Also, for being there for me in any situation where I felt like I needed to have a conversation about anything home or work-related.”

What is your favourite thing about college and your course? 

“My favourite thing about the college is how diverse it is. Over the years at college, I’ve gained an amazing group of friends and met people that I would have never met in my life if I hadn’t chosen to study at CONEL.

“My favourite thing about my course is the teachers, how driven they are and how they push us to work harder and always obtain distinctions. That mentality has stuck with me and I don’t think I will ever forget the teachers from CONEL. They have always gone above and beyond for me.”

How did it feel winning the Paul Head excellence award, the most prestigious award at CONEL? 

“I was told I was getting an award. I thought it was going to be for media. I sat in the hall thinking ‘where was my name?’ in the little booklet that was on all our seats. I couldn’t find it. I thought there was an error. It wasn’t until my cousin pointed out to me that the Paul Head award was the award I was winning. I cried. I had never won anything before especially a big award like this.

“It was a real sign that all the work and pain that I had gone through was for a reason and that just because you in care or have had been in the system, doesn’t mean that defines your life. You really can go onto doing big things. It was truly an honour.”

You recently appeared in a video for BBC Bitesize about moving from care into college, and are also set to feature in a BBC documentary. What was it like working with the BBC? 

“Working with the BBC and building a relationship with such a massive company is a dream come true. The opportunity came about from me posting some videos on YouTube about my experience in my past care homes and what I went through back in 2012. Someone from the BBC saw them and wanted to work collaboratively on some projects. These projects were BBC three documentaries about living in care homes and more. This was a dream and so unexpected, as even when I posted the videos being 12-15 years old I wanted to change the message that the media portrayed about care homes.

“The idea that care homes aren’t like Tracy Beaker, which was the only media representation that we had about them, was far from true. It was either I get someone like the BBC/ITV to push my content or I write my own book or documentary. So for the BBC to find my content online and them wanting to work with me was honestly incredible.”

What are you plans for the future?

“I plan to attend university and study fashion PR to take my education further. I also want to work with more brands and hopefully write my first ever book and publish it. Apart from that, the future could have anything in store for me, but the college has put me on a path of greatness and brought me closer to my dreams.”

In January, a group of Media Level 3 students from the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London were lucky enough to visit the Sky Academy Studios in west London, to see a real studio for themselves and create news reports using Sky’s broadcast-quality equipment.

For our students, a visit to the Sky Academy Studios was a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience. The experience was an innovative way to bring their curriculum to life, as students worked together with talented professional studio staff, in Sky’s bespoke studio to create their own news reports.

All the studios are kitted-out with broadcast-quality microphones and cameras, and touch-screen editing software that can be used to select green screen backdrops, edit clips, and add special effects, sounds and music.

Attending student, Ellis Bocking, said: “It was a surreal experience seeing the Sky Studios. We filmed our own news reports about celebrity culture and my group decided to talk about the Stormzy and Wiley clash. We saw Sky One news being reported live and the facilities were amazing. Sky have their own cinema and we saw the costume that Spiderman wore on set during the filming of ’Spider-Man: Far From Home’. We also had the chance to meet Ovie from Love Island. It was a great opportunity to get a taste of the media industry.”

The students had a very enjoyable time and learned a lot about the industry. Here is one of the clips they produced during their visit:

After working in the studios to create their news reports, the class then gathered for a final screening of their work. The students said it was an amazing opportunity to see what the media industry looks like and many said they will consider applying for a job at Sky through the company’s apprenticeship scheme.