Posted by: drmiw | May 9, 2014

World of Work Day in Larbert High School

On February 12th 2014, for the second year running, Paul Devlin and I spent the day in Larbert High School and gave a series of 50 minute classes on the ‘World of Work’ (WoW) from the perspectives of a micro business owner (me) and an experienced business startup advisor (Paul). Other classes were given by ‘world class employers‘ (Falkirk Council’s term) including Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, Royal Bank of Scotland, HP and AG Barr, so we were in good company.

Paul Devlin and Mark Williams at WoW Day 2013

Paul (left) and me (right) standing as we facilitate a product idea generation activity

World of Work day was initially aimed at encouraging students to consider gaining qualifications in business management, administration, accounts and/or computing because the number of students taking these subjects has been falling; but as of 2014 the emphasis had shifted to ‘technology related subjects’ rather than business in general.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh asked me back in 2012 if I would be willing to participate in the February 2013 WoW day, and after giving it some thought I realised that I could present the pupils with an alternative to joining a big company and becoming a ‘cog in a wheel’. In today’s economic climate, where ‘permanent’ jobs with career progression are hard to find, knowing how to start and run your own business gives you much more options. For example, when I got made redundant from a large company in April 2009 I simply started my own business while applying for other jobs. Nothing came of my job applications but my own business is still going strong five years on.

But talking about myself for 50 minutes would not be much fun for me or the pupils! I therefore asked Paul Devlin to co-present the classes with me and he had a great idea for an activity which would really engage and, hopefully, inspire the pupils.

This is how we structured our classes:

  1. We began with a very brief introduction of the session, who we are and what we had planned for the next 50 minutes.
  2. I then went on to talk about running my own business, the skills I need to use day-to-day and how the experience differs from being part of a big organisation.
  3. Paul then outlined what key things are needed in a business plan, leaving a few bullet points/headings on the screen
  4. We then launched straight into the activity where pupils are split into small groups and invited to come up with a new product idea inspired by some random bric-a-brac we provided
  5. The students then spent some time coming up with their idea, with help from me and Paul, before presenting their product idea to the rest of the class
  6. Finally, Paul presented some successful case studies from Edinburgh University and we left the pupils with a (hopefully) inspirational message about making their own careers etc.

And below is a pie chart showing what pupils thought of our WoW Day classes in 2014.

Pie chart of pupil feedback

The pie chart above shows the scores pupils gave us from 1 to 6, where 6=fantastic.

 

Some quotes from the pupils:

  • “It was great, I learned a lot”
  • “I found this interesting. Also I learned what it takes to be a product designer.”
  • “The most interesting part of this session was making our own product.”
  • “I thought this workshop was absolutely brilliant – It really caught my interest.”

Falkirk Council asked me for a quote on what my organisation gets from contributing to the event, and this is what I said: 

For me and my organisation, Muon Consulting, World of Work day enables us to give something back to our community by, hopefully, inspiring local children to take education seriously, make best use of their abilities, create their own opportunities and inject new life into the Scottish economy by becoming entrepreneurs, because I believe firmly that this is what our area and our country need now and in the future.

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