Vocational students have been praised for their professionalism and high standards after helping to give a Burnley office a new lease of life.

Art and Design and Engineering students at Nelson and Colne College have designed and manufactured planters, benches and tool cages for the Canal & River Trust’s Grade 2 listed site, in Rose Grove.

The previously underutilised office has now become a volunteer hub and storage area, and as such the Trust approached the College to invite students to get involved in making it more aesthetically pleasing, as part of an employer-led work experience project.

Canal & River Trust’s Brightwork Project Officer Emma Fielding said: “Coming from a construction background myself, I fell in love with the new £2million Engineering facilities at Nelson and Colne College, and thought it would be great to engage students with a volunteering opportunity.

“I am very impressed with how professional the students have been – they have investigated the history of the canal, taken pictures of architecture, carried out presentations, and priced materials. The finished products are absolutely brilliant, and are made even better because they have a story behind them. The planters and some of the benches will now be going on the canal towpath.

“We have a myriad of volunteering opportunities at the Canal & River Trust, and are looking forward to working with students again in the near future.”

Once the planters, benches and tool cages are moved into location, a plaque will also be created recognising all the students who have been involved in the community project.

Level 3 Engineering student Jack Waters, 16, from Colne, said: “I have really enjoyed working on this project – I got to make one of the benches, which was really fun, and it has given me some great experience, including how to overcome any problems you are faced with. It has been exciting and challenging.”

Level 3 Art and Design student Shauna Ramsay, 18, from Accrington, added: “I am really pleased that our designs got chosen – it was fun to see our ideas turned into a finished product. Nelson and Colne College is helping me gain real life experience, which I can now add to my CV.”

Vocational courses at NCC are an excellent route for students looking to enter a specific industry, such as Hair and Beauty, Creative and Digital, Engineering or Catering. As part of their study programme, students are expected to engage with meaningful work experience related to their vocational area – to develop personal skills and/or prepare them for employment, training or higher/further education.

Engineering tutor Mark Rosenthal said: “Opportunities like this help students work to a live client brief, and are invaluable in ensuring they gain ‘real experience’ of industry. The students involved in this project are all in their first year with NCC, and it has been an absolute pleasure to see just how far many of them have grown in confidence, skillset and organisation since beginning with us. I am very proud of their hard work and am confident that they have bright futures ahead.”

For more information about studying a vocational programme at NCC contact 01282 440272 or visit www.nelson.ac.uk/16-18/vocational-courses

For more information about the Canal & River Trust visit https://canalrivertrust.org.uk