STUDENTS are planning their futures at the gallop and helping an industry head off a staffing crisis.
Richmond School and Sixth Form College students Imogen Thornton and Georgia Hill were among 250 Year 10 pupils who secured invaluable work experience at venues across the country.
The horse-mad 15-year- olds were given dream placements with celebrated trainer Ann Duffield at her racing stables in Constable Burton, Wensleydale.
For two weeks the students were treated like members of staff complete with a 6.30am start to the day.
Ann said: “Racing offers the most diverse choice of career opportunities with a vast array of jobs, including riding, yard work, administration, accountancy, farriers, travel, physiotherapy, dentistry, sales and marketing and transportation.
“The remuneration, terms, conditions and pensions are much better than a host of careers and we are trying to improve how we promote the sport to help solve a global staff shortage. It’s a huge and rewarding industry, hard work, yes, but a great lifestyle.”
She had high praise for the Richmond School students. “They have really got stuck in, have done really well and learnt a great deal,” she said. “We are only too pleased to help young people, which, at the same time, will get the word out there that there are some fabulous opportunities within the racing industry.”
Imogen, of Aldbrough-St- John, has been riding since she was four-years- old and competes in show jumping, dressage and cross-country events.
She said: “Everyone was so nice and we had great fun. We were able to do a range of things and we hope to come back over the summer holidays. It has really helped me decide that I would like to work in the industry, perhaps as a jockey.”
Georgia, of Richmond, added: “The staff have been so helpful and friendly. I’d also like to work in racing and an apprenticeship would mean that I would get paid to go to college.
“One of the horses was racing in Italy the other day. It seems crazy to think that you can live and work in beautiful North Yorkshire but also travel the world.”
Other students secured placements including RAF Leeming, Deloitte, London, Durham University, Carillion – A1 Leeming to Barton Project, The City Secret, Purple Creative Services, many local primary schools, cafes and shops, Euroventure, an online travel company set up by Leeds University students and Phunky Moo, a website design and management solutions company based in Catterick Garrison.
At the end of July 125 Year 12 students will go out on work experience aimed at helping sixth form students to be competitive and to develop employability skills.
Richmond School and Sixth Form College’s careers and employability manager Liz Mannion said: “Leading employers value work experience very highly. More and more universities are incorporating work placements into their degree courses and we are taking the lead in ensuring that students can gain work experience early on. Placements open doors and often lead to part-time jobs and apprenticeships for students.”