This Tuesday saw me visiting Petroc, North Devon’s largest educational establishment with a catchment area of almost 12,000 square miles and serving 11,000 students each year. As part of ‘Forward Thinking Week’, Petroc has lined up a series of events to help educate, inform and inspire students to gear them up for their futures.

The Taw Restaurant, run by the Catering Students at the college, played host to an event for BTEC Level 3 Business Students; organised by Marie Gould, Curriculum Lead for Business & Administration at the College. Against a stunning snowy North Devon backdrop; students pitched business ideas whilst local entrepreneurs and business people, including myself; provided insights into industry specialists and the world of work. A ‘speed-dating’ approach allowed for snappy conversation with students circulating to various industry experts every five minutes. Other guests included Rozz Algar, Assistant Principal and the College & Business Consultant and Ben Parry, Owner of Barr Financial, amongst others.

Ideas ranged from roof top gardens to 3D printing firms, with my job being to help advise the students and encourage them to streamline and perfect their ideas ready for the pitching process mid-March. It was fantastic to see the tenacious and entrepreneurial spirit displayed by the students, as well as their willingness to learn, curiosity and forward-thinking attitudes.

What did strike me, however, is the number of students still unsure about what route they’d like to take post-18. Forward Thinking Week is all about helping young people in their decisions and giving them the opportunity to meet real professionals who can aid them in choices, which this event did. I was proud to have the opportunity to present the Applegate Workplace Degree Programme which gives students the ability to earn whilst they learn; on the job training is combined with 5 years’ work experience and degree study, resulting in well-rounded professionals who graduate with both qualifications and experience. With the information coming from someone who was in their situation so recently they could easily relate to what I had to say.

Interested in finding out more about the Workplace Degree Programme? Is your school or college interested in working with a business at the forefront of Technology and Procurement? Find out more by emailing

Return to Blog Index