GCSE results: plenty of options and advice available

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With GSCE results out last week, Northern Regional College student president Kate Linden has a timely word of advice to young people who are unsure about what their next step should be.

“There is a lot of support available to help you make good choices so talk to the right people to find out what is available and then do something that you’re really interested in.“

Kate is now midway through BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Travel and Tourism – the equivalent of 3 A levels - at the College’s Coleraine campus. She has thoroughly enjoyed her College experience and is now looking forward to a busy year ahead as she juggles coursework with her new role as student president.

“The course really broadened my horizons and helped me grow in confidence. When I finish the course next year, I plan to go on to university, something I would never have considered before coming here,” said Kate.

Kate admits that she took the scenic route and that studying travel and tourism was not her first or even second choice.

“After leaving school, I started a Childcare course but really struggled with my coursework and dropped out towards the end of first year. I didn’t realise at the time that I was dyslexic. I then went on to complete both Level 2 and Level 3 Diplomas in Hairdressing before deciding that the hair industry just wasn’t for me.

“I wanted to retrain but really didn’t know what to do.

“Being a mechanic appealed to me but so did working travel and tourism. I enjoy travelling and my brother told me about the course that I’m now doing. In the end, both appealed to me so I decided by flipping a coin and, because the Northern Regional College was closer to where I live, I enrolled for the Travel and Tourism course at Coleraine.

“My dyslexia was picked up by the College straightaway so I got help from the Education Support Officer. The support was amazing and really helped boost my confidence. I also got involved in debating and public speaking which helped get me elected Student President for this coming academic year.”

Kate has been back to Ballymoney High School to speak to pupils and her former teachers about the course and the career opportunities it opens up.

As someone who loves meeting people, Kate says the most enjoyable aspects of the course were the practical role plays and learning about different cultures and their importance to tourism.

“I enjoy dealing with customers and helping them appreciate our hospitality and culture.”

The BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Travel and Tourism is an ideal stepping stone to a career in the tourism sector. Students who successfully complete the course are employed in a diverse range of careers. These include: Tour and Travel Operations; Travel Agents; Airline and Airport Operations; Hotel Management; Conference and Event Management; Customer Services; Holiday Rep; Adventure Tourism; Visitor Attractions; Public Sector Tourism; Heritage; Entertainment and Leisure; and Transport.

The Level 3 Diploma is highly regarded by employers so it can lead directly to employment or progression to either university or college to study for a degree or a Level 5 BTEC Higher National Diploma in Travel and Tourism Management, Tourism and Hospitality, Event Management or other related areas.