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Debbie Joce

The route to a successful career doesn’t always have to start with university, as so many City College alumni have shown.

Among a long list of local success stories is Debbie Joce, whose career has seen her rise to the position of Group Head of Early Careers at Babcock International. Debbie’s post-16 education started like so many others, with the realisation that she was ready to try something new. Debbie had always aspired to be a lawyer but pursuing that career meant attending university, which at that time of her life Debbie didn’t have a desire to do

Despite living 15 miles away in Tavistock, City College Plymouth appealed to 16-year-old Debbie, who was desperate to start working as soon as possible; however, in the mid-90s Apprenticeships weren’t as readily available in business-related roles so Debbie chose to study for a Level 3 GNVQ in Business, Finance and NVQ Level 3 in Administration.

Like many of the vocational qualifications delivered today, Debbie’s course included work experience, which allowed her to better explore the world of HR – a world she fell in love with and has since led to a broad career working across the private, public and voluntary sectors.

Debbie said: “I acquired a lot of HR knowledge and experience via my job role however, to further my career I decided to undertake my Level 5 CIPD qualification.  After achieving that I was promoted however my new role involved a lot more travelling, and after a period of time and with two young children it became more of a challenge.

In 2016 Debbie joined Babcock as HR Change Manager, the same year she started a master’s degree in human resource management and is now a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD).  Debbie and her team work closely with industry leaders to identify future skills needs, and with education and training providers across the city – including schools and colleges – to develop and deliver Babcock’s early careers strategy. One of those colleges is City College, bringing Debbie full circle to where her training began. Her knowledge of the education sector along with Babcock’s relationship with City College Plymouth helps to ensure  young people in the city can realise their aspirations and access valuable, high-value jobs, which are underpinned by the training and skills provided.

Debbie added: “Looking back, choosing to come to City College rather than stay at school definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, however I knew very quickly that it was the right one for me. I loved the environment the College offered, and whilst I knew very few people on the first day, I soon made lots of new friends and that was brilliant for confidence.

“If you are a school leaver – or even an adult looking at changing careers – there is never just one route into a career. Make sure you are fully advised on all your options and go for the one that suits you.”