#skill50 – We reach a major milestone

Photo1 SKILL! 140514Friday 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:

Oyster Collect

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.