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East Midlands Chamber News

Pioneering Derby skills initiative calls for business backing

The organisers of a pioneering initiative to engage and introduce primary school children to the changing world of work are calling on members of the Derbyshire business community to get involved.

The Our Future Derby project connects primary school children and teachers with local businesses, with the aim of helping reduce the gap between education and the world of work.

Activities are being delivered to children in 32 primary schools across Derby with more than 226 business volunteers from 142 organisations so far supporting the initiative, which has been launched in partnership with Derby City Council and is an exciting new project made possible with funding from the Department for Education’s Opportunity Area Programme.

The main objectives of Our Future Derby is to inspire children, broaden horizons, raise aspirations, and thereby open a world of greater future possibilities to the children, their families and their teachers.

Although the scheme has been a huge success so far, its delivery partners - East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), Education and Employers charity, Learn by Design, Forum Talent Potential and DMH Associates – are urging more businesses to get involved in 2020.

Some of the activities that businesses have been involved with so far include ‘What’s my Line?’ assemblies to give children the opportunity to quiz businesspeople about what they do for a living, interactive quizzes, enterprise days, careers sessions and STEM-based challenges.

Claire Storey, a professional linguist who runs a business offering translation and tuition services, took part in the scheme, undergoing two volunteer training days and visiting schools to take part in ‘What’s my Line?’ assemblies.

She said: “Because of what I do for a living, I’m always interested in going out and talking to people about languages so Our Future Derby seemed like a natural thing to do, because it give me the opportunity to get young people enthused about language from an early age.

“It’s very much about connecting with children and making them think slightly differently about skills and how they might relate to what I had to say.”

Specialist public sector procurement consultancy Efficiency East Midlands also got involved. Its Chief Executive, Pete Smith, said: “As a company, supporting the community is in our DNA, so we were delighted to get involved in this initiative.

“Being able to go into a school and talk to children about how we got into the positions we’re in was a great thing to do.

“When I was younger, I wasn’t good at school, I didn’t like it. But I was able to show children, through my own story, that if you really want to do something and you put your mind to it, then you don’t need to be the cleverest person to be able to achieve it. It’s all about having belief and applying yourself properly, which was the message I tried to give.”

Any businesses wanting to get involved can attend a free volunteer training session, which takes place at the Chamber’s office in Derby, from 1.30pm on 12 February.

Chris Hobson, the Chamber’s Director of Policy, said: “Our Future Derby is an innovative programme which aims to inspire children and help them establish the link between their education and the world of work from an early age.

“By bringing children, parents and guardians, schools, teachers and employers together to plant the seeds of aspiration and create a positive view of future career opportunities, we hope to get children engaged, inspired and excited by the opportunities on offer to them.

“The initiative has been a huge success to date and we hope that even more businesses will take up the mantle in 2020 to take their message into local schools and start to build positive relationships with their future workforce.”

Businesses wanting to attend the free volunteer training workshop can register at https://bit.ly/373vw7L

Anyone – be it a business or individual - wanting to sign up to become a Volunteer, can do so by visiting https://bit.ly/ourfuturederby

For more information about Our Future Derby, visit www.emc-dnl.co.uk/about-us/initiatives-and-programmes/our-future-derby.