Young people from schools across the UK joined the ‘Big Conversation’ at the Skills Show last Thursday while HRH The Princess Royal looked on!
Amongst the young people were students from Washwood Heath Technology College, who are being mentored by Mosaic volunteers. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity allowed the students to talk one-to-one with some of the busiest and most powerful businesspeople in Britain, including senior figures from Compass, ASDA, Boots and Capita.
For the young people involved, the ‘Big Conversation’ proved to be an inspirational experience. Amneesha Zulfiqah aged 16, a student at Washwood Heath Technology College, said: “Wow, what a day! It was such a great opportunity to be able to speak face to face with business people and find out what had inspired them. The networking first gave me the confidence to ask the businesspeople questions. I asked them what their biggest challenges had been and how they had overcome them. I was very excited and a little scared when Her Royal Highness came to our table but to have the encouragement and support of her was the icing on the cake!”
Another student, Zakariya Elmi aged 15, wants to be a barrister and was using the day to gain help, advice and confidence as he pursues his dream. He was paired for the ‘Big Conversation’ with Jo Mein from Aecom, a global engineering company with over 3,000 employees. Jo was there to learn more about setting up an apprenticeship scheme across a number of roles including HR, admin and engineering. Zakariya and Jo soon found they had plenty in common, including a love for France but a dislike of the new glass pyramid outside the Louvre!
The ‘Big Conversation’ came at the end of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a global initiative designed to enthuse and inspire people everywhere about business and entrepreneurialism, taking place in 115 countries.
The event was also an opportunity for a call to action to UK businesses to take collaborative action on addressing youth employment and exclusion. The ‘Big Conversation’ model encourages businesses to share good practice, offer more recruitment paths for young people – especially apprenticeships – and create more meaningful work experience placements.
Lee Mason from the engineering arm of Alliance Boots said: “It was such a pleasure to meet these students and hear about their aspirations and to share my experiences. It is massively important that we acknowledge the drive and enthusiasm of young people today and ensure they are aware of the huge range of opportunities open to them. We must back up this commitment with the apprenticeships and work experience opportunities we offer.”
Nasrat Sadiq, Business and Community Learning Coordinator at Washwood Technology College, was pleased with the day, adding: “This is a great experience for the students to be able to challenge the CEOs from industry. The students have enjoyed finding out more about everything from apprenticeships to making it to the top in big business.”
Do you want to help more young people access opportunities like this? We are recruiting for mentors – successful businesspeople who can be role models for young people in their local communities. Find out more