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Go to college to get the future you want

If you’re considering your career options, going to one of Scotland’s top colleges can open doors of opportunities for your future.

Scotland’s college sector is the largest training and skills provider in Scotland. It is made up of 26 colleges stretching from Scotland’s southern tip at Stranraer to the northern reaches of Gremista on Shetland. Wherever you are, whoever you are, you’ll find a local college ready to unlock your potential.

There are around 240k college students across Scotland, benefiting from high quality teaching and training, combined with tailored support. Colleges have well-established partnerships with their regional industries and employers, which means students have priority opportunities to progress to employment. And those who wish to move into self-employment, or further study get expert advice to take their next steps.

College is for everyone

Colleges welcome everyone, whatever their age or background. One in five 18-to-19 year-olds choose a full-time college course. And while 41% of students are 16-24 years of age, 44% are over 25 – so, if you’re looking to retrain or upskill you probably won’t be the oldest in the class! And colleges are supporting the Scottish Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee to connect all 16-24 year olds to opportunities for their future. Did you know that close to 12% of Scottish school pupils benefit from learning at college? That’s through partnerships between schools and their local colleges, and includes delivery of Foundation Apprenticeships across 12 industry sectors.

A unique aspect of the college experience is the outstanding support students receive. Many students come from some of the most deprived areas of Scotland, and often are or have been in care (care experienced).

Alistair Stewart graduated from Edinburgh College with an HND in Events Management. Alistair, who is care experienced, says: “Edinburgh College has always been like a second home to me. The support I received at Edinburgh College was amazing and helped me through a lot of dark moments in my life.

“I want to say thank you to all my lecturers. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today. With their support, encouragement, and patience with me, it’s helped me become the person I am today.”

A significant number of college students have registered disabilities, and the support they get is so good that most disabled students are supported on mainstream programmes. Dawn Marie Todd graduated with an HND Events Management from Forth Valley College in 2021. In August 2004 Dawn became gravely ill with Guillian Barre’ Syndrome, she fought back but was left with mobility issues.

Dawn says: “Having jumped that hurdle of re-entering the world of education, I feel capable of achieving my goals and moving forward on my chosen career path. Forth Valley College gave me the tools to do this by giving me encouragement and direction as well as a sense of belonging.

“I never felt out of place with being an older student, and I was always supported with my disability without feeling secluded. Lecturers want you to succeed as much, if not more than you do.”

The skills and qualifications you need

With thousands of courses to choose from, colleges are focused on developing Scotland’s workforce. They are committed to the success of their students, ensuring they leave with the training, qualifications and essential skills they need for employment and life. Some of the most popular courses are in subjects like health care, engineering, information technology, business management, construction, cultural studies, science, catering and tourism. There are hundreds more to choose from.

Recent research shows that 95% of college graduates move onto a job or higher learning. In fact, 40% of college leavers move onto university, which means 28% of Scotland’s university entrants came from a college. And it may surprise to you learn that many colleges deliver degree courses too, so college students can choose college to get their degree.

Amber Harris is studying for a BA in Childhood Studies at Fife College, she says: “I started my college journey when I was at high school, with one of the school-college partnership courses at Fife College. From that one course, I felt really passionate about what I was studying and since coming to college full-time I’ve completed my National Certificate, my HNC, my HND and I’m now studying for my BA degree in Childhood Studies. Once I am qualified from my degree, I would like to go into my PDGE Primary Teacher to then become a qualified primary teacher.”

Employers across Scotland can access training in colleges to fill skills gaps, upskill and retrain their workforce. Thousands of people are studying at college as part of their occupation, with the learning of more than 90k students linked to industry.

Get the work experience employers want

Scotland’s college sector is renowned for its strong partnerships with businesses and industries – from small local businesses (SMEs) to major multinational companies, and from defence contractors to local authorities. Our colleges are recognised as innovators and leaders across Scotland.

Colleges are Scotland’s biggest provider of Modern Apprenticeships, with over 11k Modern Apprentices being supported by colleges and employers across the country. And colleges work with businesses to shape the curriculum, ensuring its relevance for Scotland’s regional economies. In return, businesses and industries work with colleges to give students the experience of a real working environment. That puts college students way ahead when it comes to obtaining real skills for real jobs.

Flexibility, funding and earn while you learn

College learning flexes to your needs. You can choose to learn full time, part time, or through distance learning, and you can even combine your learning with your school, family, or workplace commitments.

Colleges offer hundreds of options and pathways, from starter courses to vocational training and apprenticeships, through to higher education and degree qualifications. Professional qualifications are on offer too, as well as a range of online courses to help your job and career prospects.

Amanda MacDonald, who did the online ‘Introduction to a Career in Social Care’ course at West College Scotland, says: “I’d applied for a few care jobs, but the answer was always the same, that I needed some experience. I was a little apprehensive about starting the course, but knew I had to do it if I wanted to get anywhere. I’ve learned a lot and it’s given me a really good insight into what a job in care will actually be like and given me the skills to do it.”

Importantly, college offers a great range of funding options to support you while you learn. You will be able to apply for funding such as bursaries, discretionary grants and funding to cover childcare costs too. You’ll need to apply to SAAS for your tuition fees, and they offer bursaries and loans too. Find handy budget and funding calculators to get you started. But don’t worry, your local college will help you with all the information and support you need to get the right funding.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, and whatever you want to be. Choose to achieve your potential with a course at your local college this year.

Find your local college and start your learning journey.

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