The foundation of supporting any sector or working profession, is to ensure young people are informed, inspired and intrigued about those career options, and that they are equipped with certain skillsets to be able to thrive within them.
Therefore as part of Digital Lancashire’s supporting activities to Digital in Lancashire, the Digital Advantage Scheme was created.
The Digital Advantage Scheme was born as a potential antidote to the current digital skills gap issue, and its overarching purpose is to get professional digital skills being taught and explored earlier, or sometimes even at all, within the education system.
The teaching program has recently been rebranded as The Pop Up Agency, and is presently being piloted amongst 10 colleges and sixth forms in Lancashire. Although this is only the first year of the pilot scheme in the county, the course was extremely successful in Greater Manchester last year, and is now thriving in it’s second year of running.
Dominic Williams, is currently a course leader for The Pop Up Agency, and has given us insight into what the course is teaching the students. Dominic himself, was a founder and former Creative Director of award winning digital marketing agency Fat Media in Lancaster.
He explained that the aim of the course, is for students to change their approach and mindset from academia to agency thinking; To get the creative thought process into the classroom. The output of the course, is to form a business idea, and follow the process from idea conception through to a finalised product or business model.
The course begins with several icebreakers, to get the students comfortable with each other, then the initial idea generation takes place. Held as group workshops, everybody has the chance to get involved. “The great thing about this is that everybody has to contribute, it can’t just be one way” says Dominic.
When the ideas are generated, the pupils then undergo the convergent phase, to refine their lists of ideas and interrogate potential issues. The pupils then break off into groups and form specialisms such as project management, design or research, and expand on their chosen idea. Each group are told that they are the owner of that ‘business’ and will effectively have shares. This helps them to become more invested in the project.
The project activities are carried out in a scrum methodology. Scrum is an agile software development model based on multiple small teams working in an intensive and interdependent manner. Scrum is a methodology that allows a team to self-organise and make changes quickly, in accordance with agile principles.
Throughout the two day course, the pupils are also taught about self representation, and are encouraged to use a networking site similar to LinkedIn, to gain experience of representing themselves in a digital age.
The course concludes with the pupils producing a video presentation of their business idea, and the work they have undertaken in the course. At the end of the year, all the videos are put forward from all participating institutions, and a judging panel chooses the winner.
The winner receives £2000 of business funding.
When asked how the students feel at the end of the course Dominic says “Whilst the participating students are excited and motivated by the possibility of their idea becoming a real business in which they have can have a stake, the real value of the exercise from a digital business perspective is the process itself, and the teaching and instilling of agency-style creative methods which will help them develop their ideas into real, tangible outcomes.”
Excitement and passion for subject area is absolutely imperative to attract more undergraduates into the profession.