Nurturing the talent of the future: promoting skills for World Youth Skills Day and beyond

| minute read

Recent estimates suggest that 600 million jobs have to be created over the next 15 years to meet youth employment needs around the world. Due to the pace of innovation and change, roles are adapting at rapid speed and new roles are emerging all the time. In today’s fast changing world it’s critical to acknowledge the importance of empowering young people with the necessary skills to thrive.

At Sopra Steria, we believe the world is how we shape it, and we’re shaping it for the better. We firmly believe that investing in education and building skills is the key to unlocking the potential of young individuals to help them create a safer, healthier and more sustainable future. By prioritising education and skills development, we strive to prepare young people for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead by offering practical skills and real-world experiences.

The power of youth skills

In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared July 15th as World Youth Skills Day. The day provides an opportunity to recognise the incredible potential of our youth and the role they play in shaping the future along with the importance of equipping them with life and employment skills.

In this article, we’ll share some of the initiatives that are running within our Aerospace, Defence, and Security (ADS) part of the business, from offering early education within secondary schools to supporting those leaving university. The initiatives are designed to help young people acquire the skills they need to create the future they deserve, and one in which everyone has a better chance to succeed.

The flight of the silver feather

Blue Origin, the renowned space company founded by Jeff Bezos, embarked on a unique mission that involved 100 silver feathers. These feathers were adorned with QR codes and flown into space. When they returned, they were donated to VIPs, including the CEO of the Science Museum and Captain Kirk from Star Trek. However, one feather took a detour and landed in our offices.

During our CyberPower day at Stroud High School earlier this year, Meredith Patton, our Workforce Inclusion Manager, and Sally Newport, our Client and Social Value Relationship Lead within our ADS business ran a tech talk and competition, inviting Year 8 girls to express their thoughts on the importance of technology and cybersecurity through prose or poetry. The response was overwhelming, with 100 entries from four participating schools. The prizes for the winners included Amazon vouchers, but the ultimate reward was the silver feather that had journeyed through space.

Among the talented participants, Maisie from Stroud High School emerged as the ultimate winner. We wanted to make the prize ceremony a memorable occasion for all the students so in June, the eight CyberPower winners, accompanied by their teachers, National Cyber Security Centre (NSCS) leads and representatives from Sopra Steria gathered at one of our offices for a day of celebration and inspiration.

To make the award ceremony even more special, we arranged a live link-up with Blue Origin. Despite the early hours in the United States, Lucas from Blue Origin delivered a presentation on the significance of cybersecurity, and technology, in space, highlighting the spacecraft that had carried the silver feathers.

Through our connection with Blue Origin, we’ve also established contact with Cheltenham Festivals (Science, Music and Literature), fostering a broader association that will bring further inspiration. As we continue this journey, we remain committed to nurturing the talents and aspirations of our youth, fostering inclusivity and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the world of technology and cyber.

Cirencester College – CyberFirst School

As part of our commitment to nurturing young talent and aspirations, we’ve teamed up with Cirencester College to capture their industry needs and we’ll be working with them and their A-Level and T-Level students over the 2023/24 academic year.

Through this initiative, we aim to bridge the gap between academia and real-world industry demands. By actively engaging with Cirencester College and its students, we can contribute to their educational journey, offer practical insights, and provide valuable resources to support their professional growth.

In the future we’ll be looking to partner with even more schools and support more students with their personal and professional development.

Inspiring the next generation at the Cheltenham Science Festival

Our team attended the Cheltenham Science Festival in June to meet and inspire the technologists, engineers, and innovators of tomorrow.

In collaboration with our partners at Argo DevOps Solutions Ltd, our team designed several activities to put children and visitors to the test in a series of fun, cryptic and interactive challenges.

We welcomed thousands of students and their families, giving them the opportunity to explore the world of technology in a fun and engaging way, regardless of their areas of interest, ability, gender, or background. Some of the children who arrived at the event had limited understanding about what a career in sicne, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) would involve but left feeling inspired to find out more.

The immersive workshops and talks led by accomplished scientists, engineers, and industry experts created a path for the students to search out a career STEM.

Sam Clarke, Head of Workforce Planning said, “For me the highlight of the event was seeing the students enjoying and learning from all the different games and challenges. The activities gave us the opportunity to inspire the next generation allowing them to explore the world of STEM and drive their innovation forward.”

Empowering from within through apprenticeships

Over the past few years, we’ve run a selection of apprenticeships across several of our business areas. One of our accounts currently has a cohort of nine apprentices from different backgrounds, many of whom may not have thought of starting a career in STEM without the support provided by an apprenticeship scheme. They’re currently developing skills in DevOps (a style of IT delivery), networking and data analytics.

Our apprentices are now fully embedded in the technical teams, developing their skills through their own teams and mentors. Alongside gaining fundamental workplace experience they’ve had early career support to give focused guidance, training, and support in areas such as complex problem solving, effective communication and managing your career.

Apprenticeship fairs and workshops

To support those in their early careers, our teams take part in apprenticeship fairs with the latest being at the Salisbury Apprenticeships and Careers Fai, which included 1,000 students, their teachers and parents. At the event our team were on hand to offer advice, and a better understanding of apprenticeships and career pathways on offer.

Leading up to the recruitment of our apprenticeships we attended Portsmouth college to give an informal talk to students about Sopra Steria and what kind of skills and jobs exist in IT companies. Breaking into smaller groups, students were able openly ask any questions they had varying from tips on how to write a good CV and interview tips to what technical skills they need to study.

With such positive feedback from the workshop, we’re looking at continuing this in future years.

Shaping tomorrow’s innovators

Immense potential lies within every young person; by equipping them with the right skills and resources, we can empower them to build a prosperous and sustainable world for all. Investing in youth skills development is not only a wise decision but also a moral imperative. It is up to us, as a society, to ensure that young people have access to quality education, training, and mentorship opportunities. By doing so, we enable them to become confident, capable, and resilient individuals who are ready to take on the challenges of the world.

Together, let us create a world where all young people have the chance to thrive, and no young person is left behind.