New survey shines light on the benefits of college

It’s official – going to college helps you land your dream job.

That is one of the key findings from a new national survey of 1,000 alumni across the UK – including former students based in Bradford and Keighley.

We commissioned the research to shine a light on the many benefits of a college education, and are publishing the results to help celebrate Colleges Week.

Seventy percent of those asked told researchers, Perspectus Global that college had helped them get the career they wanted, while an overwhelming majority – 93% – would recommend college to others.

College-goers also reported going on to earn good wages in their post-study careers, with just over half (52%) now being on annual salaries of between £25,000 and £45,000 – and 14% earning more than £50,000. Those figures compare favourably with both the UK’s (£33,000, in this Statista report) and Yorkshire and the Humber’s (£30,000) median annual salaries for 2022.

Nearly half of those surveyed, meanwhile – 47% – now hold managerial, supervisory or directorial positions.

A path to secure an exciting future

Our Principal, Kevin O’Hare said: “These findings show how college education is helping so many people learn new skills to open up fresh opportunities and land exciting jobs in the areas that inspire them.

“We have so many talented people, of all ages, whose skills, and ambitions, are equally well served through pursuing technical and vocationally focused courses, such as T Levels, Higher Technical qualifications and apprenticeships, rather than taking the university or more traditionally academic route.

“Colleges like ours in Keighley and others across the country are working closely with employers to ensure we can offer such students fantastic opportunities to earn real-world experience of their chosen industries, including manufacturing and engineering, while they’re studying.

“As this research clearly demonstrates, this approach is really reaping rewards in terms of getting people into the jobs they want across so many sectors – and in many cases leading to well-paid, senior roles.”

The survey reveals that college opens up career opportunities across a wide variety of fields, ranging from manufacturing and engineering, healthcare and IT to hospitality, science, education and law.

Opening up opportunities in all kinds of industries

The majority (50%) of those asked cited ‘to learn a skill to set them up for their career’ as the main reason they had chosen to go to college, though many (37%) also said their choice was down to a love of learning.

Learning new skills and gaining real-life work experience was what most respondents (48%) said was the best thing about their college experience.

For more details on Colleges Week 2023, which runs from 9-20 October this year, visit

*The photograph shows Alex Johnson who has flourished at specialist engineering firm, Produmax thanks to her Keighley College apprenticeship.

‘A fantastic way to start a career’ – Alex hails her apprenticeship

Engineer Alex Johnson is starting the new year in a role she loves and with a management degree apprenticeship in her sights.

Alex is a quality engineer at Baildon-based Produmax where she has been working – through an apprenticeship with the college – for several years.

She has just gained a distinction in her Level 4 apprenticeship in Manufacturing Engineering with the firm, which specialises in high precision engineering for the aerospace sector.

Urged on by our teachers and Produmax’s team to keep pushing herself, Alex is now looking forward to starting a Level 6 Chartered Management degree apprenticeship through the University of Leeds.

She said: “I started on a Level 3 Manufacturing apprenticeship, having found the quality engineer role, and developed my interest in the inspection side of engineering, through Produmax’s work experience programme.

A terrific experience, with no limits to what can be achieved

“I’d encourage anyone to do an apprenticeship – it’s a fantastic way to start a career in any industry, whilst having the ability to continue studying. There are also no limitations to what you can achieve, it’s down to how much work you’re willing to put in.  

“My apprenticeship has been a terrific experience. I’ve been encouraged along the way by the team at Produmax and at Keighley College to work hard and aim high.

“I’m looking forward to continuing my workplace development whilst undertaking the degree apprenticeship.”

Produmax offers several apprenticeship engineering positions, usually starting at the end of August, each year.

Find out more about our apprenticeships at the college here

Principal enjoys factory floor shift at stairlift company

Our Principal has been putting a shift in on the factory floor at Acorn Stairlifts.

Kevin O’Hare visited the Steeton business to find out how a group of students from the college, who are on two-days-a-week supported internships with the firm, were getting on.

Kevin had been invited by the students themselves. He said: “I was asking them about their work at Acorn. They said it was great and that I should come along and ‘do some real work’ too!”

The college’s partnership with Acorn has been running for three years now, and four previous interns have gone on to secure jobs with the company. The current group of four students – Jason Baxter, James Littlewood, Jordan Lindley and Kenny Greenwood – work at Steeton on Thursdays and Fridays, supervised by Acorn staff and their own mentor, Fran Day.

A mutually beneficial partnership

Fran said: “All the supported interns have Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), which means they need a little more support initially, until they find their feet.

“I’m here to supervise them at first, then gradually pull back so they can work independently. They learn about productivity and work ethic, but really they just want to work.”

Ryan Baron, Production Manager at Acorn’s Steeton factory, said: “The supported interns are brilliant, they’re hard working and have fitted in really well. The work they do – assembling components for our stairlift rails – is work that our guys would actually be doing on the line.

“We move it off the line until they get the hang of it, but they still have to meet demand for the components and they don’t let us down. The work they’re doing helps them to gain skills and experience and helps us too, so the partnership with the college benefits us both.”

A brilliant opportunity to gain valuable life skills

Kevin, speaking during his visit, added: “It’s a brilliant opportunity for the students to understand what life’s like in a working environment, seeing the different processes and how the workplace is structured, from the reception, the canteen, right through to the factory floor.

“It’s a valuable experience, and we often forget how important that is. The work is important, but the context of the work is too. It’s what I call residual learning – it’s about social interaction, navigation, orientation, timekeeping.

“It’s not on any curriculum or part of any course programme, but these are valuable life skills we all need to acquire.”

Acorn Stairlifts, which has factories in Yorkshire and Scotland, is a world leader in the manufacture, installation and innovation of stairlifts.

Though its headquarters are in Steeton the company, which produces 70,000 staircases a year, has sales and service staff across the UK.

Double joy for mother-and-daughter team at Keighley College

When Emily Ellershaw went for an interview at Keighley College she took her mother, Shirley, along for moral support.

Neither could have imagined that, a few years later, they would both be working for the college as teachers.

But that’s exactly what happened after Head of Service Professions, Kevin Burke, asked Shirley what she did for a living during that fateful interview. When Shirley replied that she was considering a career change, while wanting to continue working in health, Kevin told her about the college’s new Health & Wellbeing Foundation Degree.

Despite enrolling on different courses, Emily and Shirley were able to meet for study sessions, support each other through the Covid-19 lockdowns, and cheer each other on.

Never too late to follow your dreams

They succeeded and are now both enjoying careers at Keighley College.

Course Leader Shirley is delighted at how things turned out, and hopes her story inspires others to make a change.

She said: “It’s never too late to pursue the career you have dreamed about – even if the journey takes a little longer.

“Honestly, it is worth all the hard work when you finally have the job you want and love.”

For Emily, her time at the college, from starting as a student to ending up an employee, has been a transformative experience.

Amazing support through an amazing journey

It began when she was 15, and joined the college through a partnership programme with her secondary school, from which she  gained a Level 2 childcare  award.

She went on to complete a Level 3 diploma in Childcare and Education, a foundation degree in Supporting Teaching and Learning, a BA (Hons) in Children and Young People’s Care and Education, and finally a PGCE and teaching work placement.

She said: “It was when Kevin Burke started teaching me that I found out about the new supporting teaching and learning degree and, after numerous conversations, I applied for the course. I can say with absolute certainty that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

“If it wasn’t for the support and passion from Kevin when talking about my future, and all the pathways I had in front of me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

“When I started my PGCE I was extremely nervous and continually questioned myself if I was good enough, or if I could actually do this. But my fears were soon put aside when I started my first day of placement – I was welcomed into this amazing environment and everyone in the staffroom was extremely friendly, and made the time to help and support me.”

Emily is urging other adults who are looking to make a change to also take on a course at Keighley College.

‘Go for it and don’t look back’

She said: “The support I have received has been amazing, any time I have asked a question or panicked over deadlines or my work I have always had a tutor to support me.

“Being able to study and work together with my mum has also been an amazing experience, and I believe it created this stronger bond between us.

“My first words to other adult learners would be ‘go for it and don’t look back’, because it would be the best decision they would ever make. Keighley College is a family where, no matter what you’re thinking and feeling, you would have the support you need.

“It’s never too late to make a change, even if it scares you.”

Click here for more details on courses at Keighley College.

‘Thanks Keighley!’ – top research scientist recalls college days

An expert in developmental biology has thanked Keighley College for providing him with the platform to embark on a distinguished scientific career.

Dr Matthew Towers is currently a senior researcher at the University of Sheffield with a specialist interest in limb development.

To reach that esteemed position, he studied at a number of universities around the UK – but can trace the start of his scientific endeavours back to Keighley College.

Excellent support and a focus on STEM

He said: “I attended Keighley College between 1991 and 1995, first studying for GCSEs and then A levels.

“The team there was very supportive and provided excellent mentorship. I enjoyed the adult-oriented learning environment, and mixing with other students of different ages and backgrounds.

“I flourished at Keighley College because I was able to study STEM-based subjects without being distracted by other activities that I had not been interested in at school.”

Matthew went on to obtain a BSc in genetics from the University of Leeds, and a PhD in plant developmental biology from The John Innes Centre, in Norwich.

Deciding that he wanted to specialise in a medically-related field, he then did postdoctoral work at the Universities of Dundee and Bath, studying how limbs develop in the embryo,.

In 2010, Matthew moved to the University of Sheffield, where he is a reader of developmental biology. He has since opened his own research laboratory with initial support from the  Medical Research Council and now, the Wellcome Trust.

He said: “My research still focuses on limb development, for instance on how the correct type of digit forms in the correct position.”

Recalling his college days, he added: “I remember my time at Keighley College fondly, and I am grateful that it helped me start my career.”

Click here to find out more about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) courses at Keighley College.

Games design students get top tips on ‘levelling up’

Budding games designers from Keighley College have been getting top tips from some of the giants of the industry.

BTEC Level 3 National Diploma Games Design and Development students got the chance to talk to leading figures in the sector when they visited the Yorkshire Games Festival in February.

The week-long event, held at Bradford’s National Science and Media Museum, is an annual extravaganza that celebrates games culture, design and production.

The festival also includes Game Talks days, featuring workshops, masterclasses and special guests, which are designed to boost the employability prospects and knowledge of aspiring designers.

Representatives from two of the UK’s biggest developers – Rocksteady, the team behind the Arkham series of Batman games, and Team 17, creators of Worms – were among the speakers.

Games design students from Keighley College enjoying Yorkshire Games Festival

An inspiring day out

Keighley College Games Design lecturer Adil Hussain said: “We had a very good turnout, with 17 of our students going along. They heard talks from the guest speakers that covered all aspects of the game design industry.

“The learners had an amazing time listening to professionals giving them tips on the design and development of computer games, and inspiring them about their future careers.”

Women in Games Ambassador, Bex Betton, also spoke to the students  about work experience opportunities in the industry, and the pros and cons of taking unpaid roles.

Adil added: “Some students had never been to the National Science and Media Museum before, so they also enjoyed the chance to explore as there were a lot of interactive areas, including an arcade with retro games.

“This trip was a positive experience for them which was great both educationally and for their mental wellbeing.”

Deep discussion sparked through a day of powerful talks 

Keighley College hosted the town’s first ever TEDx event, which saw talented leaders come together to inspire local listeners from the community.

The event welcomed talks from a plethora of ambitious guest speakers, from expert entrepreneurs to community champions and education innovators. Influencers from a wide range of sectors, including health, technology, film and marketing, addressed captivated audiences at the college.

Kevin O’Hare, Principal at Keighley College, said: “This event was a real milestone for the town which put Keighley on the map globally; showcasing its rich culture, gripping ideas and unbeatable community spirit. We were thrilled to welcome diverse audiences who engaged in deep discussions through this phenomenal celebration of ideas and concepts.

“We were ecstatic to host 20 like-minded experts who engaged with our community and students on a fusion of innovative topics, such as the rise of artificial intelligence, raising aspirations of young people in the district, the power of apprenticeships, diversity in the TV and film industry, sustainable businesses and many more.”

The overall theme for the Keighley event was ‘life chances’.

Tim Rogers, founder of Future Transformation, which runs TEDx, added: “Keighley is a national epicentre of talent, shown through its skilled individuals and unbreakable resilience. The TEDx event was a unique opportunity to show the world what the town has to offer, and champion individuals who are leading the way in some of the country’s most exciting projects.

“We want to help shape the minds and skills of the local workforce, and what better way to do this than by hosting TEDx at Keighley College, which sits at the heart of the community. Through this day of wonder and curiosity, we have brought together communities, educators and businesses to show the town’s capacity to become a thriving place which encourages a new way of thinking and working.”

Among the speakers was Jason Atkinson, whose career started as an electrical apprentice before progressing to a technical director at local manufacturing firm, Byworth Boilers.

Jason commented: “The Bradford district is a real melting pot of ambitious and diverse young people, however not all of them know about the vast career opportunities available in the area. I was fortunate enough to discover apprenticeships, giving me the chance to engage in real-world scenarios and put my knowledge into practice. 

“The aim of my talk was to demonstrate the importance of providing young people with the best life chances by exposing them to options and career sectors they may not have come across before. Through discussing my journey from apprentice to director, I hope to inspire the next generation to consider apprenticeships, which can often lead to fulfilling careers in exciting sectors.”

TEDx is a community-led initiative which celebrates locally-driven ideas and elevates them to a global stage.

Building on firm foundations

As Keighley College prepares to host a Staff Careers and Recruitment Day, we hear from team members about the rewards and challenges of their jobs.

Reece Simpson’s work at Keighley College is quite literally helping to lay the foundations for a brighter economic future for the district and its people.

Reece teaches bricklaying, a role he landed after working as a ‘brickie’ himself for some years and then spotting an apprenticeship opportunity at the college.

He has now been teaching full-time for a year and a half and is enjoying sharing his knowledge to help his students achieve their full potential.

A chance to shine

He said: “This was a good opportunity for me as bricklaying was beginning to get the better of me physically and teaching was always a career I wanted to pursue.

“I started at Keighley College as an apprentice teacher which included studying the level 5 in education and training whilst working as a Construction teacher, this allowed me to learn the various teaching methods whilst also gaining classroom experience.

“Upon completing the level 5 training I was offered a full time teaching contract, which I have been doing for the past 18 months.”

A sense of accomplishment – and overcoming challenges

“The most rewarding aspect of the job role as a bricklaying teacher is seeing the students’ progression throughout the course, from learning to spread mortar to building decorative walls to a high standard.

“The pandemic has caused various challenges due to bricklaying being a mainly practical course.

“It meant learning had to go online and this was difficult at first, but learners responded well and made the most of it. This resulted in the minimum disruption possible.”

Career and training opportunities at Keighley College

The college, which will play a vital role in helping the local area recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, offers all kinds of opportunities to anyone interested in a career in education, training and skills.

There are positions currently available across a number of fields including: teaching, learning support, technical, students support, leadership, administration, training and facilities.

More details can be found by booking a virtual slot on our Staff Careers and Recruitment Day, which Reece is encouraging anybody who is considering a career switch to take part in.

He said: “The advice I would give to anyway wanting to pursue a career in education is to not wait and go for it.”

To find out more about visit , call 01535 68500 or email .

Recruitment drive for growing college

Jobseekers invited to pursue an exciting career – and help shape the workforce of tomorrow – at Keighley College

Keighley College is aiming to add to its large and committed team by staging its first ever Staff Careers and Recruitment Day.

The virtual event, featuring a live link to the campus, runs from 12 noon to 7pm on Tuesday 6 July and will be an opportunity for visitors to find out about the range of exciting job opportunities that are available as well as training opportunities for those that want to work in education, training and skills. 

The college, one of the area’s largest employers, has been growing and is now poised for further expansion thanks to a recently announced £33.6 million Towns Fund award for Keighley. Part of that funding will be used to create a new Skills Hub and a centre for manufacturing, engineering and future technology: both of which will be sponsored by Keighley College.

Those who take part in the college’s Staff Careers and Recruitment Day will be able upload their CVs, talk to members of staff and learn how they can come and be part of a fantastic staff team. The college is also keen to hear from individuals who are considering a career in education, skills and training – especially those with industry experience. 

Principal Steve Kelly said: “This is a particularly exciting time for Keighley College, and we are keen to recruit new and committed team members to join us on our journey as we continue to grow.

“This recruitment day is a great chance to find out more about the outstanding work we do here, register an interest and get involved.

“The college is at the heart of the community and has a key role to play, thanks to our skills provision and exceptional industry links to agencies like Skills House, JobCentre Plus and the Department for Work and Pensions. 

“Our work – and that of other organisations across our district – is driving the skills agenda and helping the economic and social regeneration of the town and region.

“Keighley as a location has a lot to offer including its proximity to beautiful countryside, Bronte Country, Cliffe Castle and the famous Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.

“I look forward to welcoming lots of potential new employees on Tuesday 6 July, giving them a virtual tour of our cutting-edge facilities, and hearing from them about how they can contribute to our continuing success story.”

Virtual slots for Keighley College Staff Careers and Recruitment Day are available at 12 noon, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 6pm and 7pm.

For more details and to book a place visit .

The college currently has positions available in a number of fields including teaching, learning support, technical, students support, leadership, administration, training and facilities.

To find out more about job opportunities at Keighley College visit, call 01535 68500 or email