A former engineering student at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) has won a prestigious award for his exceptional work during his studies.

James Marlow, 25, was presented with the Outstanding Academic Achievement award and received £500 in the Michael Sargent Bursary Awards 2021.

He achieved 15 Distinctions on an Access to Higher Education Diploma at CONEL last year and is now studying for a BSc (Hons) Computer Science at King’s College London.

Receiving his award at online ceremony on 19 January, James said: “It is a real honour to receive this award. It was a really wonderful experience studying the Access course and I learnt a lot of key skills, thanks to my tutors Muhammad and Amadu who were really terrific.

“Before I did my Access course I was working as a software developer and after five years I was ready to move on. I knew I wanted to move into academia but didn’t really know how to, because I didn’t have the qualifications. That’s where the Access course came in and now I’m at university.”

James, from Knebworth, Hertfordshire, impressed his tutors from the beginning with his drive and dedication. They also praised his excellent communication skills and friendly support for other students in his role as class representative.

Muhammad Ahmad, Lecturer in Engineering at CONEL, who nominated James for the award, said: “James was a very dedicated and hard-working student who performed outstandingly throughout the academic year and successfully achieved 45 credits at Distinction.

“James demonstrated excellent skills in all mathematical, physics and engineering modules taught this year. The evidence he produced in his take-home assignments was consistently of very high quality and the general presentation of his work was very logical and well-organised.

“I am extremely pleased to see James receive this award, which he thoroughly deserves, and I wish him well in his new adventure at university and all the best for the future.”

The Bursary Awards are presented by OCN London, a UK awarding body that provides qualifications for colleges, adult education centres, community groups, training providers, charities and employers.

They were established in memory of Michael Sargent, a trustee on the OCN London board and a member of its quality committee who was also one of its longest serving moderators for programmes from Basic Skills to Access to Higher Education Diplomas.

The Bursary Awards celebrate the achievements of Access to HE learners in two categories – Outstanding Academic Achievement and Outstanding Commitment to Study.

Jacquie Mutter, CEO of OCN London, said: “These awards are all about celebrating achievement and our winners are here today because of their hard work, determination, perseverance and because they’ve gone the extra mile to achieve excellence in the work they’ve produced.

Reflecting on the challenges of studying during the pandemic, she added: “They also recognise these students’ sheer endurance and that in spite of everything, they’ve achieved and moved on into higher education.”

Access to Higher Education Diplomas are one-year courses for adults looking to study at university or other higher education provider, but who do not have the qualifications needed for entry.

Students can pay for these courses using an Advanced Learner Loan that will be written-off once they have completed their higher education course.

CONEL no longer runs an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Engineering, but the course is still available at its sister colleges, City and Islington College and Westminster Kingsway College. Find out more about our current Access to Higher Education Diplomas and Engineering courses at CONEL.

A hotel manager who studied Travel and Tourism at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) has called for more women to be given top jobs in the industry.

Jael Akyeampong is General Manager of the RB Park-Hill Hotel in Ghana, the country where she was born and grew up before coming to the UK when she was 19.

She is also a Director of the African Association of Women in Tourism and Hospitality (AAWTH) and was named Most Admired Female Hospitality Professional in the Hospitality Awards Ghana 2021.

According to travel and tourism consultants Aptamind, women represent half of all employees across the sector but only 19 per cent are in senior management roles and just five of the top 100 firms globally have a female CEO.

Jael said: “Most of the leadership roles in the travel and hospitality industry are occupied by men. There are some women in management but too few are getting the top positions. That is something we need to put right.

“The AAWTH looks to give more women the opportunity to work in more senior roles by working with the industry to provide internships and offer more coaching and mentoring. Women have a lot to offer and can bring a new perspective to the boardroom. We need more female role models to look up to, who can support and usher more women into the business.

“I am very proud that I’ve been able to build my career and acquire a high level of leadership, but the sector needs to open up more opportunities for women to show what they can do. There’s a lot of progress that still needs to be made.”

Jael studied Travel and Tourism at CONEL in 2013-14 where she undertook a work placement at the five-star JW Marriott Grosvenor House London hotel in Park Lane, which later helped her to secure a position at the Accra Marriott Hotel in Ghana.

“My time at CONEL really inspired me a lot, especially the internship, tours and support. We would do presentations and share what we’d learnt in class, and our teachers would give us coaching sessions and career guidance,” she said.

“I always looked forward to my classes because I had great tutors who would listen, acknowledge the fact that we wanted to learn more and gave us the opportunity to express ourselves. It was a great experience. What I learnt at CONEL really helped me with my career.”

Jael returned to Ghana in 2017 after a spell working as a Travel Consultant for Xstream Travel. She began working for Deeva Travel in Accra before landing a customer service role at the Accra Marriott Hotel where she was later promoted to a supervisory position.

She went on to study online for a Diploma in Tourism Management with the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality accredited by the University of Derby, before topping it up to a BA (Hons) International Hospitality Business Management.

Jael was appointed Front Office Manager at the RB Park-Hill Hotel in 2019 and promoted to her current role of General Manager last year. Recently she has started running her own travel agency for newlyweds, The Haven Honeymoon Concierge, alongside her main job.

“The travel and hospitality industry is gradually picking up after COVID, and people are travelling and staying in hotels again and there are jobs out there,” said Jael.

“It’s a really exciting and enjoyable career because you get to meet many different people from all over the world. It’s very hands on and you’re often working long hours, but it’s worth it.

“I love to serve people and put a smile on their faces. What makes me really happy is when a guest gives a nice review about their stay. It gives me a great sense of fulfilment knowing I offered a great service to somebody.”

Apply now for Travel and Tourism courses.

With the UK rail industry facing the challenge of an ageing workforce, Glen Lambert. Head of School, for Construction, Science and Engineering at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL), spoke to Rail Technology Magazine (RTM) recently about how investing in apprenticeships can fill this gap.

The UK rail engineering industry is facing a huge skills shortage in the face of multi-billion pound Government investment to improve the rail network over the coming years.

In its article Creating a Younger and More Diverse Workforce Through Apprenticeships, RTM referred to a study by City & Guilds and the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR), which revealed that 28 per cent of rail employees are over 50 and 120,000 people will need to be recruited over the next decade.

Glen called on rail industry leaders to address the aging work population in the sector by investing more heavily in apprenticeships and explained how CONEL is already supporting companies create a new skilled engineering workforce.

He said: “There’s been a lack of investment from employers in training young people, they prefer to go out to agencies and hire qualified and trained people, which isn’t a bad thing. But the only way we’re going to fix this skill shortage through this ageing workforce is to train new people into the industry.”

According to the City & Guilds and NSAR research, fewer than a fifth of rail employees are women, despite nearly a quarter saying they would consider a career in the sector. In a related RTM article in the same edition, Network Rail’s own research revealed an increase in female employees from BAME backgrounds.

Glen acknowledged that it was not just down to rail companies to recruit underrepresented groups but felt more involvement was needed from the industry, including having positive role models visit colleges and schools to inspire young people into rail careers.

He said: “We need to look at what the barriers are to getting people into the industry. Is it that they don’t believe that they can get there? Is it careers advice in school? How well does the rail industry engage with secondary schools for example, do they go in and do events? … We need to identify what the barriers are and how we overcome those barriers.”

CONEL is part of Capital City College Group (CCCG). Rail apprentices are trained at the college’s huge engineering provision at its Enfield Centre, which includes the London Rail Academy. Most are recruited directly by rail companies, while others are existing engineering students or recruited by Capital City College Training (CCCT), which is also part of CCCG,

Read the full article Creating a Younger and More Diverse Workforce Through Apprenticeships in RTM on pages 64-72.