Twelve East Coast College students were heralded as “trailblazers” as they attended the launch of the Kingsley Care Academy.
The youngsters are the first students to be welcomed on to a 12 month course mixing tuition on the college’s Lowestoft campus with work experience at Kingsley Healthcare’s care homes in the area.
They were greeted by recruitment manager Bev Lambert at Kingsley House, the company’s Lowestoft HQ, and each presented with laptops.
They will also be receiving a £250 bursary and £250 end-of-course bonus, Academy branded polo shirts and an invitation to the Kingsley Care Awards, held annually at the Ivy House Country Hotel in Oulton Broad.
Successful graduates will also be offered a guaranteed job at one of Kingsley’s local care homes.
Mrs Lambert told the students: “Well done, you are the first students we are taking through the Academy.
“You are trailblazers for this scheme and, if it is successful, we will be looking to roll it out to other areas of the country where we have homes, including the North West.
“You are all going to be ambassadors for the Kingsley Care Academy.”
Kingsley operations manager Helen Gosling, who started her career as a teenaged schoolgirl working in a care home at weekends, said: “I was amazed by the passion of these youngsters during the interviews.
“If they carry that through the course this will be a wonderful opportunity for them to start a rewarding career.”
Amber Spearing, a lecturer in health and social care at the college, described the Academy as “really innovative”, providing students with a “fantastic supported experience for them to get into health and social care from a young age”.
Daniel Blaza, 16, from Lowestoft, said: “I am really keen to do a job where I can make a difference to people’s lives.
“My mum is a part-time carer and I have already got involved in helping people with disabilities by holding a fundraiser for the Stroke Association.”
Katie Meadows, 18, of Carlton Colville, said: “I am going down the care line following my mum who works in mental health.
“I am not sure at the moment whether, ultimately, I want to work with children or the elderly and the Academy will provide me with valuable experience.”
Jasmine Bourke, 16, of Lowestoft, said: “My mum used to work in a residential home and I used to go along to help her.
“The Academy will give me valuable experience of working with people with different disabilities and illnesses.”
Kingsley chief executive Daya Thayan said: “We want young people to see care as a worthwhile career, not simply a job.
“The care industry is as big as any other vibrant industry, like the oil industry, but a constraint until now has been a lack of training facilities and opportunities for youngsters.
“We are proud to have created this exciting opportunity for young people in the town where we started as a company. If they work hard, there will be almost limitless opportunities for them to progress their careers.”