The Skills For Tomorrow event kicked off in style earlier today, as students from Birmingham, Herefordshire and Worcestershire schools were given the chance to learn about issues of sustainability in businesses, the ‘green’ economy and careers. The event took place at the Riverside campus of the University of Worcester and saw dozens of children aged between 11 and 14 take part in a range of unique and engaging workshops. Pupils from St Mary’, St Bedes, Turves Green and Abbey Park Middle School attended the opening day, with more schools scheduled to take part on Friday. The workshops took the themes of food, tourism and convincing consumers and used them to get the young people engaged with the wider environmental problems facing their generation over the next few decades. Aside of these activities, attendees could visit around 15 stalls from local and national companies and charities tackling sustainability issues and see the career opportunities that were open to them after they had finished their studies.
The keynote speaker at today’s event was Mark Martin, the Chair of the Business Board (WLEP) and a key figure behind the proposed Green Skywalk development hoping to be built in the city by 2018. Describing the project as being “designed to put Worcester on the map,” he felt that the structure would kick start a push towards a potential bid to become City Of Culture in the near future. He went on to praise the Skills For Tomorrow event, saying:
“I firmly believe in helping children with all the changes and challenges that they will face in the future. The pace in which the worldly changing is getting very fast and we need to talk to them about the major issues, in order to give them a good grounding in the future. “
One of the stalls available for students to visit belonged to David Jullien, Chief Executive of Act on Energy, an organisation aiming to promote more sustainable energy usage in Worcestshire. Their stall contained several interesting gadgets, including a thermal imaging camera and a number of energy saving lightbulbs. David described the need for younger people to be more sensible with their energy use as ”critical,” going on to talk about the need to change bad habits at an early age:
“We need to encourage people to stop wasting energy and that starts with kids.”
Worcester Business School stand staffed by Dr Colin Price, a principle lecturer in Computing, attracted attention with a state-of-the-art 3D printer that wowed both students and other exhibitors. Dr Price praised the overall aim of the Skills For Tomorrow event, saying that:
“There are so many different stands, but there’s still a common message: sustainability and modern technology. The children will go away from here today with a really powerful understanding of how these issues affect their daily lives.”
He then went on to claim that schools need to change the way that subjects like engineering and computer science are viewed by teachers:
“If you say to a headteacher ‘What does an engineer do?’, they’ll probably think of someone working with oily rags. That not what engineers do. Engineers solves problems.”
With tomorrow’s exhibitions and workshops promising to be much busier than today, Skills For Tomorrow can already be viewed as huge success. The event will conclude tomorrow, with a key note address from Worcester MP Robin Walker and a mixture of new and returning stalls.