Friday, November 4, 2016

#5 Autumn Baltic Schmooze: Bridging the Gap Between Educators, Businesses and Younger Generations

This week saw the return of the quarterly Baltic Schmooze, this time held at The Studio School. Baltic Schmooze is a seasonal event that aims to unite and integrate friends, neighbours and supporters of the Baltic community by bringing everyone together, promoting partnership and increasing collaborative relationships and business within the Baltic area.

#5 Autumn 2016 had a clear focus on bridging the gap between educators and businesses and considering how the two can collaborate more efficiently to support and empower younger generations entering the workplace.

The discussion was led by Nigel Ward, founder and CEO of Northern Schools Trust, a charitable organisation that aims to transform the lives of younger people through education in areas of social and economic deprivation. The panel was made up of five industry leaders who all offered their experience and knowledge of connecting the dots between businesses and educators.

First up was Dr Deborah Pownall, the Employer Engagement Manager at Liverpool John Moores University who encourages organisations, businesses, individuals and alumni to engage with university curriculum and undergraduates through the World of Work Programme. The World of Work Programme realises that for some employers, a degree is not enough and work experience and skills are highly valued. The World of Work Programme is a pledge by LJMU to include work related learning through all degree subjects enabling students to prove they are ‘work ready’.

Head of the renowned Agent Academy at Agent Marketing CIC, Zoe Wallace revealed to the Baltic Schmoozers her experience of operating the social enterprise which seeks to provide younger people with the commercial skills that typical education often lacks. The programme was set up as a response to 16-25 year olds, who despite having a degree still found themselves without the skills to enter the creative industries. The innovative and bespoke programme offering experience, a portfolio and support with job opportunities. Zoe revealed that of 31 academy graduates, 90% are now in full time industry employment – amazing!    

Chris Morland, CEO, Designer and Producer at Citrus Suite – a creative digital studio that produces award-winning apps for globally renowned clients, with a portfolio that currently boasts Penguin Books, BBC, Big Fish Games and Royal Shakespeare Company. With such great credentials and a global contact book, Chris works closely with The Studio School holding various workshops and sessions and has even employed a student. Chris revealed the success he has had in working closely with younger people and encouraged other local businesses to do so too.

Managing Director at All About STEM, Michelle Dow graced us with the incredible story of STEM and the services they offer across Merseyside, Cheshire and Warrington. All About Stem essentially promotes science, maths, technology and engineering in schools, businesses and the community. MerseySTEM was a result of the need of a translation and engagement service between industries and educators. Michelle recognised that in an increasingly digital world, businesses need tech-savvy young people to filter through the ranks, and equally it is schools that need to facilitate these skills.

Lastly, Melanie Williams, manager of enterprise and engagement at The City of Liverpool College seeks to support creative-entrepreneurial students such as writers, bloggers, filmmakers, photographers, artists and musicians. Enterprise Hub supports students by bringing a business idea or social enterprise to life through advice and guidance, help with funding, building a business plan and access to industry experts.

The event put into perspective the challenge we are facing as a society and the real need to embed workplace skills into formal education and better prepare younger people to enter the industry. Also, how the Baltic Triangle as a pioneer in innovation, creativity, forward-thinking and community-led values can really continue to lead the way in putting these initiatives into action.

Supported by a collaboration of colleagues across the Baltic Triangle including The Women's Organisation, Baltic Creative, The Studio, Elevator, Make Liverpool and Ninety Squared, the #5 Autumn 2016 Baltic Schmooze was, as always, a massive success in encouraging a thought-provoking discussion whilst uniting the community. 

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