Friday 10th July sees SKILL! celebrating its 50th workshop. The programme, created by Visionpath founder Patrick Philpott in 2008, helps young people learn skills needed for their future careers. Here, Patrick talks about how far the programme has come in the last seven years and reflects on some of his favourite moments.
I am excited that, today, we are delivering our 50th SKILL! workshop, which is a huge milestone for us. When I started SKILL! seven years ago with a workshop for 100 students I couldn’t have imagined we’d get to our 50th programme and be working with such amazing corporate clients, partners, schools and young people.
When I founded Visionpath and SKILL! seven years ago, I wanted to help young people from a variety of backgrounds learn skills that would prepare them for the workplace, such as communication, teamwork and problem solving, whilst being inspired by top employers and the great people working in them.
SKILL! centres around one-day workshops where students and professionals join forces to develop big ideas that tackle everyday problems. Teams have to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts for feedback and insight. It’s a big task but the students always rise to the challenge and present some really impressive, memorable ideas. These are a few of my favourites from over the years:
Pitched just this year, I love the simplicity of this idea. It left us thinking “what hasn’t this been done before?!” It’s a new type of Oyster card combined with a Nectar card to give you points as you travel that can be used in shops. A bit like air miles for the tube. Brilliant!
This was from one of our early workshops and it is the brand that has made it one of my favourite. Students pitched an idea for an online advice and support service for teens. Proteen is easily one of the best brands to have come out of SKILL!
iPod ever gone flat while you exercise? This team had the answer. A new type of arm band that holds your phone or music player during exercise but also uses kinetic energy to charge the device! Fantastic use of technology in a brilliantly simple product.
I am always amazed by the ideas students come up with at SKILL!, and their self-belief comes through in the incredible pitches. It’s all the more impressive when you think students achieve this in just one day.
I’m often asked what I enjoy most about my work, and it is seeing the collaboration between students and mentors, and how they suppport and learn from each other. Seeing people of different ages, generations, cultures and backgrounds working together and learning from each other always inspires me.
From small beginnings in May 2008 we have now worked with over 2000 students, over 1000 professionals and seen over 300 ideas presented. We work with outstanding businesses – from SMEs to multinationals – and couldn’t have achieved this milestone without their support. I am really proud of how far SKILL! has come and thank you to students, mentors and partners.
Looking forward to the next 50!
If you have been part of SKILL! – as a corporate partner, mentor or student – please share your memories of the programme on Twitter with hashtag #skill50. We’re also @skillprogramme.
We’re delighted to announce global advertising technology provider Videology as the latest corporate partner on the London edition of SKILL!, our flagship programme.
Videology is one of the world’s leading video advertising platforms. Their technology enables the management, measurement and optimisation of digital video and TV advertising, focusing on one goal: helping advertisers effectively and efficiently reach consumers wherever they are watching video. Videology employs over 300 people worldwide, with 80 based in London.
Starting with our workshop in London on 8th May, staff from Videology’s London office will join professionals from Affiliate Window, Babcock, Milbank and Mindshare to work with groups of smart young people; building their core skills by mentoring and coaching these bright students, enhancing their learning as they gain skills and experiences vital to their future success.
If you would like to find out more about how Visionpath’s programmes can develop your organisation, whilst supporting young people in your communities, please get in touch.
On Thursday 19th March, SKILL! London 2015 began with the first of five one-day workshops bringing together 14-16 year olds from London schools with professionals from our corporate partners Affiliate Window, Babcock, Milbank and Mindshare. The session was hosted by Allen & Overy in the City.
SKILL! is our flagship scheme, a youth development and employee volunteering programme giving young people an introduction to 21st century skills of collaboration, communication, creativity and clear thinking; all vital in today’s changing world of work. Engaging professionals from our corporate partners enhances and supports the students’ learning, and presents an opportunity for those professionals to build their own performance-enhancing skills.
Our programme sees students and professionals working in small teams to devise and pitch big ideas that tackle real-life challenges. Through a variety of interactive sessions, we take students through the process of identifying the problem and how they can solve it; communicating their idea with impact; and finally presenting their concepts for feedback and advice.
On 19th March, 45 students from three London schools joined with professionals from our corporate partners, working up some impressive ideas tackling everyday problems. Here are a few of the concepts pitched on the day:
Bin It To Win It – a device attached to litter bins using QR codes and barcodes to enable you to earn redeemable points for disposing of litter responsibly.
Reach Out – An app that provides young people with an accessible, anonymous means of accessing the help they need if suffering from mental health issues.
Texstyle – An app that identifies in-store stock availability and locates the item on the shop floor, so you can easily find and buy items from retailers that aren’t online.
Our panel – including Allen & Overy partner Harry Upcott and live events entrepreneur Danny Oakes – were bowled over by the simplicity of the ideas and how they addressed clear challenges that matter to young people. We were delighted to see how well the students and professionals worked together in their teams. The feedback from everyone has shown how the day transformed young people’s attitudes to school and their perceptions of the world of work, and enabled professionals to improve their mentoring, coaching and facilitation skills.
One school said:
“The sessions always seem to improve and create a great buzz. Our students really enjoyed the programme and stressed how much it had built their confidence, communication and teamwork skills. One student also highlighted how he now sees things in a different perspective and will apply what he learned from SKILL! in his studies…”
We’re looking forward to our next workshop in London in May, hosted by Microsoft. If your school would like to attend please get in touch.
On 11th February we worked in partnership with global professional services firms Allen & Overy and PwC, to launch SKILL! in Belfast. We love launching our programme in new locations, helping more young people and professionals learn and grow by working together. The effects of these collaborations are powerful and we want to expand our reach right across the UK.
SKILL! sees students and professionals join forces to devise and pitch big ideas. For young people the aim is to develop 21st Century skills of communication, collaboration and clear thinking; vital in enhancing their employability. For professionals, mentoring students is a great opportunity to make a difference and build their own core skills. As with every Visionpath programme, it’s about youth development meeting professional development.
We were delighted to welcome over 40 students from Ashfield Girls’ and Boys’ Schools in Belfast. They were bright, savvy and engaged, immersing themselves in the programme and proving that what you get out depends on what you put in. There were inspiring scenes of collaboration and some incredible outcomes. A few highlights:
100% of students said they felt more prepared for the world of work.
Two-thirds of students said they would not have received this support elsewhere.
100% of mentors said the experience improved their coaching skills.
80% said it had improved their facilitation skills.
The programme was led by Matt Kepple, one of our most experienced facilitators. We were fortunate to have input from Stephen McGrath of communications agency Weber Shandwick, who helped students understand how to communicate effective and present with impact, which stood them in good stead when it came to pitching their ideas in the Tigers’ Cage. There were a raft of fantastic ideas presented, but the stand-out concept was an app that would help young people stamp out bullying.
“We are delighted to have partnered with Visionpath and PwC, to be the first employers in Northern Ireland to deliver SKILL! It is hugely important to use to forge strong links with local schools and the programme has enabled us to do this. From our perspective, the programme is expertly constructed and facilitated, which enabled students to get the most from the day. I can see immediate and longer term benefits, both for us as an organisation and for the participating students and schools.” (Allen & Overy)
We’re really excited about the opportunities to bring together young people and professionals in Belfast. If you’re interested in finding out more, please get in touch.
From 2015, Mindshare will be working with us as a corporate partner on SKILL!, our flagship employee volunteering and youth programme. Professionals from across the business will engage with the workshops, building their core skills by working with young people and helping them develop key skills for the future.
Paul Rowlinson, UK COO at Mindshare, said of the collaboration:
“Mindshare UK are delighted to be partnering with Visionpath in 2015. We believe SKILL! will play a key role in helping us develop collaboration, coaching and people skills in our people. Knowing that we will also be giving young people on the programme the opportunity to learn how people in modern businesses work, and equipping them with their own skills in creating ideas and solving problems, is a true “win-win”. We’re really excited to be part of it!”
If you would like to find out more about SKILL! and becoming a corporate partner in this inspiring programme, please get in touch.