YOUNG people spoke of their hopes and aspirations during a visit to Keighley College by a former special advisor to The Prince's Charities.

Dame Julia Cleverdon spent a day at the Bradford Road site, speaking to staff and students and holding discussions with businesses, education organisations and community representatives.

She's a member of the Enterprise and Careers Company, a Government initiative examining what can be done to improve 'employability pathways' for young people.

A luncheon was held to debate key issues affecting the area and positive work being carried out to promote literacy and apprenticeships, while raising awareness of STEM subjects for young girls.

Among those represented were Bradford Council, the Department for Education, National Literacy Trust and employers including Gesipa and Airedale Springs.

College principal, Heather Whitehead, said: "The students are at the heart of what we do and Dame Julia's visit was testament to the work we are currently undertaking to offer an inclusive and accessible environment where they receive the support they need to thrive.

"The college’s wider objectives include promoting innovation. Working in partnership with the council, key employers and our community, we endeavour to provide students with the skills they need to succeed."

Dame Julia said she wanted to learn more about the "great things" happening in Bradford and its surrounding areas.

"I have always been interested in what happens to young people in some of the most important communities and cities across Britain," she added.

"I'm very keen to hear from the young people and to understand what they think is working and what we can implement to make their vocational, academic or apprenticeship journey worthwhile."

During a tour of the college, she visited the Textile Academy and engineering department where she spoke to students at length.

Dame Julia praised their "wonderful" work and encouraged them to continue pursuing their career goals.

Her other roles include vice-president of Business in the Community, and she continues to promote collaboration between senior leaders from business, government, education and community organisations.

Dame Julia is also chairman of the National Literacy Trust. She said considerable work had been carried out in promoting literacy to the community, but more needed to be done.

And she spoke about the success of the National Citizen Service, which she was appointed to last year for a two-year term.

Thirteen per cent of 16-year-old students in the Bradford district went through the programme last year.

"With the support of its social action element it continues to empower young people to make a difference in their communities and to foster a sense of social responsibility for the future," she added.

This year's summer scheme begins on June 24. There will be business workshops and volunteering and fundraising programmes.