“When I meet young people who are considering a career in Nursing I say: ‘Congratulations on your career choice! I’ve never seen a good nurse who didn’t have a job. You’ve got a job for life, if you want it,’” says Vicky.
“The answer to the question: ‘Why a career in Health and Social Care’ is: ‘You can have the biggest impact on people’s lives, which is rewarding.’
“They can make a spaceport in Cornwall but you need the support infrastructure behind it, otherwise it can’t happen. You need nurses, social workers, midwives, care workers, early years teachers. Without these human support elements for the spaceport workers, it can’t happen,” says Vicky.
“We’re all born, are children, need nurseries, schools, care, hospitals, get Covid jabs, have elderly relatives, get sick, need help, grow old, and eventually will die. My department will have the most significant impact on everybody’s lives. The next generation of workers who will help the people of Cornwall with all these things are in the classroom right next door to me now.
“For the right person there are always job opportunities and there is such a range and variety of careers, including youth work, social work, criminology, family worker, outreach support, admin, or being a manager in the system. In Health there are clinical roles, the NHS, nursing and the massive range of health roles, more roles than you can even think of or remember. Support, administrators, technicians, training, digital medicine. Whatever your skillset or where your preferences take you, there’s going to be careers on offer there. It’s a sector of such growth and change, who knows what possibilities are next? There’s a career for everybody.
“Education is also so important, too—we’ll always need teachers of early years education. But if you’re going into early years teaching, you probably already know. I can see the sparkle in their eyes when I meet them and talk about it.
“I am excited about the trend of health and care coming to the forefront of everyone’s minds and the changes to society to put more financing into it for the long term, coupled with a focus on practical routes to get into those fields.
“We have over 500 learners a year. It is one of the biggest departments at Truro and Penwith College.
“The first 1000 days of a person’s life delivers their life outcomes—so it is why my sector is most important,” says Vicky. “The scientific evidence is in. The experience of the world that people have in the most crucial early years of their lives, that determines the rest of their lives. Through nurses, childcare workers, social care, and primary school teachers, society is the product of the positive impact that the graduates of my department have on individuals and society as a whole.”
Vicky also teaches Functional Skills at the College, making sure students have the English and Maths that they need to progress and succeed in life. “Young people who don’t have a Level 2 qualification, which is GCSE-equivalent, can be massively hampered in their choices and life outcomes,” says Vicky.
“Our aspirations for the department are to look at extending the provision, make it the very best it can be, and keep it as industry-current as it can possibly be.
“The world has changed. My sector has changed. All Level 3 courses have extended work placements—one full day a week in industry work environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, nurseries, youth or family work settings. On all courses there is a focus on employability skills, work experience and progression routes into employment.”
Vicky has taught at and ran college departments and campuses around the world and in London and Berkshire, but her partner is from Cornwall and she was eager to work here and move here full-time with her family.
“I taught abroad for 15 years, worked in London colleges, and ran departments. I was Director of Studies at colleges in Spain, Argentina and Chile, and was an Inspector. I ran a big school in Chile, then came back to the UK and worked with refugees and migrant workers at East London College.
“I was Director of English and Maths at Berkshire College, which has five sites. We went from grade 4 to 2 (Ofsted inspection ratings) in 18 months. I then moved into Health and Social Care and at City College in Islington, London, was Head of Department.
“I have a keen interest in the students that wouldn’t normally achieve.
“16-to-19 year-olds deserve a really positive learning experience in a great environment, after the disruption of Covid. College enables them to develop friendships, do extra-curricular activities, and grow as a person. We offer an environment that is a safe and perfect for them to grow between school and their adult lives.
“It’s so clear that our College is an Outstanding College. Everyone is focused on giving learners the best possible experience. I have been really impressed by the College since I came. Compared to other places it is clear to see why it is rated Outstanding. I work in close collaboration with David Atkinson-Beaumont, the Vocational Programme Team Leader at Penwith College.
“There was never a better time to study Nursing, Health, Care, Education or the other careers my department leads into, with the focus on nursing, the NHS, and care reform and how to finance it, society is rearranging itself around the sector to make it more robust going forward.
“I’m very passionate about it. You’ll need great staff in all these industries, and that’s what we provide. If I can inspire people to go on to careers in the sector, the difference they can make to society and to other people’s lives is huge. So that’s what I’m here to do.”