Here’s to succeeding in the 21st century world of work!

“Never quite known anything like it.  An amazing day for our students.” –  Andy McGinnes, Head Teacher at The Buckingham School

“This made me feel like I am going to do something amazing.” – a student

There was a lot of excitement about the Inspiration for Innovation Event which took place at The Buckingham School, last Thursday 5th December, and that’s not surprising as we had fantastic and widespread support from our Silverstone volunteer network sponsored by MEPC, Silverstone Park and also from the Automotive 30% Club Outreach network sponsored by CDK Global. Along with the co-sponsorship of the event by The University of Buckingham, there was a great buzz around the school in the lead up to and on the day.

Headteacher Andy McGinnes kicked off the day, encouraging his Y9 students to soak up the amazing insights that they were about to receive, to aim high and make the most of the opportunities presented to them. Julia Muir, CEO Gaia Innovation acknowledged the extreme challenges and pressures faced by youngsters and referred to the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) Study findings that 15 year olds in the UK showed the biggest decline in life satisfaction since 2015, and that girls in the UK have one of the highest fears of failure of pupils anywhere in the world! Julia encouraged the youngsters to develop their life skills and not to get caught up with being perfect, but to be an interesting and rounded person and maintain a healthy life balance. To do that they should identify what they are good at and do what they are passionate about and try and find an occupation linked to those things that will pay decent money and be what society needs. Julia reminded them to ask for help when they need it and reassured the pupils that their future was bright.

An interesting and informative speech followed by our keynote speaker Alex Smith, MD Volkswagen Group UK. Alex told his personal story and the children followed his journey through education and into the world of work. They were shown how car manufacturing at VWG affects the environment and how the group offset their carbon footprint. Many examples of job opportunities were presented and explained to the students along with a strong message around the requirement for gender equality and diversity in the workplace so that they understood the importance of a gender balanced workforce for innovation and the future world of work.

The Y9 Students spent the morning taking part in 4 activities, Automotive Future Technologies, The Future World of Engineering, Entrepreneurialism and Enterprise and a Career Speed Networking session. Each activity was carefully curated to ensure that the children were given sufficient topical and forward-thinking information and the opportunity to interact with the ‘real-model’ volunteers. Every activity included a hands-on activity supported by our volunteers from VW Group UK, Wirth Research, The University of Buckingham and our Silverstone Park Volunteer Network, with the overarching aim to inspire students to make informed GCSE option choices which reflect their interests and abilities and will lead to jobs of the future. We rounded off the morning with a fun quiz for the whole year group referencing information about the local jobs market.

We took an interesting look at 4 personal stories during the afternoon. Hosted by Julia Muir each of our guests spoke to the whole year group about their individual journey. This was a fantastic way for the relatable ‘real models’ to show the students how they overcame barriers to follow their dreams and to get to where they are today. We heard from Sean Ruane, Director of Customer Success at Clear Review an alumnus of The University of Buckingham, Bessem Ebot-Arrey, Graduate DevSecOps at CDK Global, Alicia Martin, Undergraduate at VW Group UK and our very own Sophie Oak, Degree Apprentice at Gaia Innovation Ltd. Each brought their own thoughts on the importance of believing in yourself, asking for help and turning perceived failure into a learning experience to help elevate your potential. The children then took part in a Q and A with our guests bringing an open and inclusive presence to the session.

Commercial Director of MEPC, Silverstone Park, Roz Bird helped close the day with a look at the opportunities available at Silverstone Park and the surrounding technology cluster, informing the students about what future employers are looking for and encouraging the whole year to carry the day forward by looking further into the opportunities available, checking out websites, speaking to the volunteers and to their school careers advisor. The creative and enthusiastic Dean Jones, Partnerships and Outreach Manager, BEIU then showcased the winners of the Entrepreneurialism and Enterprise activity and relayed an inspiring, original poem to round off the day and encourage the youngsters to raise their aspirations.

We are looking forward to analysing all of the feedback from the day, including the questions that the students answered throughout the day in their work booklets and comments from our volunteers and the school from the follow up feedback issued. Initial results indicate some fantastic Meaningful Encounters have been achieved and Suzy Pykett Assistant Headteacher, Director of Sixth Form at The Buckingham School noted: “The energy and conversations we have had today about the day have been brilliant”.