An ERA ended for a group of sixth form students at The Highcrest Academy when they graduated from a unique three-year training programme.

The project, called Bridge To Employment (BTE), was overseen by healthcare giants Johnson & Johnson who mentored pupils from the school in High Wycombe.

The initiative first began in February 2016 and finally ended at the start of the summer term when the students’ achievements were celebrated at a graduation ceremony at J&J’s High Wycombe head office.

The ceremony was attended by the students and their parents, teachers from Highcrest, the team from J&J who delivered the programme and a guest appearance by Olympic athlete Amber Hill.

A total of 18 students graduated.

J&J set up the worldwide BTE programme in 1992 to inspire young people to enrol in higher education, excel academically and pursue health and science careers.

The initiative has been run in 13 countries but, in 2016, Highcrest was the first school in England to take part.

Students learn how to conduct job interviews, write CVs, improve their presentation skills and build up a work ethic.

As a result of the success of the first programme, both Highcrest and J&J arranged for another cohort to attend a new and abridged one-year course.

On January 30 this year, 16 new students were welcomed to J&J’s headquarters in Holmers Farm Way, High Wycombe.

The new cohort of year 12 students will now spend the next year, up until January 2020, attending regular sessions being supported and guided through various activities and training by volunteers from the company.

Neil Ashcroft, commercial director of Janssen – the pharmaceutical companies of J&J – said: “We were all really impressed with the positive attitude of the students and the support given by the management team and teaching staff at Highcrest during the last scheme.

“We are delighted to be giving more students an opportunity to benefit with this new one-year course.”

Rob Evans, Highcrest’s Careers Lead, said: “The vast majority of students who took part last time agreed that the scheme would provide them with an advantage when applying for further education, higher education and a job. Participants were also shown to have significantly increased their awareness of careers in health. So, you can understand why we are really excited to have another chance to do this.”