Students at the Energy Coast UTC have experienced the world of work remotely via virtual reality headsets as space-age technology helped careers advisers beat COVID-19 restrictions!
Like many others throughout the UK, Year 10 students at the Energy Coast University Technical College, near Workington, were unable to physically visit workplaces during their work experience week because of the pandemic.
So, instead, college leaders and employer partners brought the world of work into the school!
One way in which they did so was by means of virtual reality headsets, courtesy of Ben Slater, Managing Director of local SME MissionCX, a specialist commissioning service provider, and recently-appointed Enterprise Adviser to the school.
Enterprise Advisers are senior level professionals coming from different industry sectors and from many backgrounds but with one common objective – to work with a school or college’s senior leadership team to develop their skills programme for the benefit of students.
Ben said: “What a fantastic week and experience! I’m blown away with what our partners have delivered.
“We hope the students will have a broader appreciation of the work opportunities on their doorstep and further afield, with an enhanced understanding of complex Engineering and Construction project delivery.
“Our VR.WRX Virtual Reality work experience, which we used for the first time during the week, is going to be a game changer.”
In addition to the Mission CX VR headsets, students used video conferencing to explore areas like engineering design and construction, transporting nuclear waste, electrical engineering, the development of small nuclear reactors and much more, alongside several careers talks with apprentices and graduates.
UTC Assistant Principal Simon Richardson said: “In the pre-COVID world, students would have spent time with employers at their workplaces, experiencing the world of work first-hand. After a call to employer partners, they came up with some fantastic ideas, presentations, projects, careers talks and experiences which related to the world of work in a more virtual setting.
“At the UTC we put our student’s employability skills front and centre. The effort put in by our fantastic employer partners has allowed our students to gain these skills in the virtual world and we’re very grateful to all of them.”
The Enterprise Adviser programme is managed by the Cumbria Careers Hub, a partnership of schools, colleges, employers and careers education professionals.
Launched in January 2019, the programme now supports over 40 secondary schools across Cumbria to deliver exceptional careers education.
Working alongside the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) and the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC), the Hub brings together employers with schools and Colleges to support high quality careers education and enable young people to engage with employers and experience the world of work.
Cath Dutton, Cumbria Careers Hub Manager, said: “We’re delighted that Ben and other employer partners were able to give the UTC students such a memorable experience, despite the limitations imposed by COVID.
“The role of Enterprise Adviser is an important and rewarding one and we’re always looking for new recruits to join the team.
“It’s a voluntary role and will require a commitment of around eight hours per month for one academic year. If you have a passion for raising the aspirations of young people and would like to put your strategic skills to use in helping a school or college develop its careers programme, then we’d like to hear from you.”