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Digital work experience project gears school pupils up for future working life

Lord Alan Sugar and Sir Richard Branson may need to watch out...

School students in Sheffield enjoyed a real taste of adult working life when they spent 10 days in a mock ‘business’ environment as part of an innovative programme set up by The Salvation Army in Woodhouse.

The work experience project, created by Woodhouse Corps working with Handsworth Grange Community Sports College – and supported by Red Tape Central, Sheffield Hallam University and local business people – was designed to prepare young people to gain business skills and opportunities for future employment.

During 10 days of fun-filled sessions, participants also gained an insight into The Salvation Army and its work as a charity and church.

Year 10 pupils joined a ‘pilot digital media business’ and took up the role of media consultants, and met real clients with briefs to undertake and develop during the two weeks, using skills learnt from the experience - including working with clients, interview skills, team building, IT and leadership skills.

The media briefs ranged from campaign material about anti-human trafficking, websites for community centres and youth services, as well as promotional material for charity shops and for mental health services.

Sessions were led by industry experts, such as lecturers from Sheffield Hallam University, representatives from The Salvation Army and local businesses, and Councillor Ray Satur MBE from Woodhouse Ward.

Speaking about the innovative project, Andrew Watson Community Youth Worker at Woodhouse Salvation Army said: “This was a really exciting project to run with the support of Red Tape Central and the Faculty of Health and Well Being at Sheffield Hallam University.

“It comes at a time when employment for young people is very challenging and we believe is a valuable addition in helping young people think about their next step towards a career. The Salvation Army now hopes it can replicate this project in other areas in the UK.”

Sue Wright, Work Experience coordinator for the school said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for our business studies pupils to engage in real work scenarios. The final presentations and resources made available to the groups resulted in some amazing promotional materials including websites, posters and informational power points.

“The young people really enjoyed the experience and gained so much from it. We really look forward to working with Andrew and his team again next year."

One participant added: “I wasn’t sure about joining an ‘army’ but those guys from The Salvation Army are really cool!”