Inspiring Future Tech Professionals at Content+Cloud’s Workplace Safari
Content+Cloud, one of the UK’s leading Microsoft partners, recently hosted a Workplace Safari in association with the Greater Manchester Apprenticeship and Careers Service, offering 12 students from Salford City College Group the chance to experience life working in the tech industry. The event was part of an initiative to address the tech skills gap across the Greater Manchester region and Content+Cloud was the first Microsoft partner to lend its support. So, what did the students and professionals learn from the day?
Workplace Safaris – what are they and why are they important?
Meet Your Future is an initiative from the GMCA Youth Employment and Opportunities team. It’s supported by GMACS, which was launched in 2019 by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham with the aim of helping young people experience the world of work.
Engaging with professionals and exploring a variety of business environments is crucial for school leavers, with research showing that young people who have four or more encounters with employers are 86% less likely to be unemployed or not in any form of employment training when they leave school or college.
With their Workplace Safari, Content+Cloud wanted to give young people the chance to imagine their futures in the tech sector and to get a feel for life with a possible employer.
Content+Cloud’s CEO Geoff Kneen is a strong advocate for an engaging and inclusive career pathways programme, having affirmed the organisation’s commitment to building a better future for young people at the conclusion of National Apprenticeship Week 2023.
“People joining apprenticeship schemes in the UK last year actually fell and youth unemployment increased, as did the digital skills gap. With the tech industry still forecast for growth this year I encourage all in the industry to play their part in establishing strong early year career pathways,” said Geoff.
The students were given the chance to meet and engage with Content+Cloud employees, learn about the incredible growth in the technology sector and discover the career opportunities that exist within the industry.
Summing up the purpose of the event, Steve Chalkley, Content+Cloud’s Head of Procurement, described it as an opportunity to “break down barriers to see that there are routes into technology, and that those routes can be incredibly local”.
Addressing the tech skills gap by inspiring the future
One of the greatest benefits of the day was the opportunity afforded to the students to network with industry professionals, discovering the routes that led them to the sector and gaining insights into the day-to-day realities of working in tech.
The students got to hear from professionals from across the business, learning about the core functions that Content+Cloud provides. Introductions to sales, marketing, research and development, human resources and finance were offered throughout the day, with Q&As allowing the group to get to grips with their own career-based queries.
The students also had the opportunity to meet Du-aine, a current Content+Cloud apprentice, and quiz him on his experiences with the organisation.
Inspiring the future by engaging today
In a direct nod to one of the most controversial and widely discussed tech topics around the world, the group also engaged with artificial intelligence, working with ChatGPT to create a presentation from scratch. Having enjoyed their challenge, the students were challenged to consider how AI may impact and influence the future of the technology industry.
The impact on the group was immediate, with some considering a career in tech for the first time.
“I came today to understand a professional career in IT and what it involves,” said one student.
“This environment gave me a more realistic sense of the work environment and what life after an apprenticeship or college would actually be like,” said another.
A bright future for tech
In summing up the success of their first Workplace Safari, Nick Isherwood, Content+Cloud’s Chief Information Officer, reflected on the exciting nature of the face-to-face event and what it achieved.
“Who needs a crystal ball to see what the future of our business looks like when you can meet it,” he said.
“These students have been thinking about their own careers, whether they are going down the apprentice or degree route, and we have been able to understand what is important to them and what kinds of roles they’re looking for.
“I think from the student’s perspective, they’ve understood a lot more about what makes a technology business tick.
“It’s been a great experience for our team and cemented how important it is for the tech industry to get behind apprenticeships,” he concluded.
Stephen Bewick, Work Experience and Employability Coordinator at Salford City College Group, was delighted with the results of the event.
“This is the first opportunity for our students to be with an employer in their business location,” he commented.
“Our digital leaners got a fantastic insight into Content+Cloud’s business and some individual roles, how they work Microsoft to deliver transformational tech services to clients and how they themselves could get started in the fast-paced tech sector.”
Top tips for tech careers
The world of technology can seem confusing to those on the outside, with constant evolution driving ever greater expectations and possibilities.
Here, Content+Cloud’s Dynamics Products Director Duncan Kerr provides his personal top five suggestions for young people eager to break into this fast-growing industry:
- You need to have a genuine interest in tech. That’s the crucial first step. There are opportunities out there, but you want to be enthusiastic about what you’re doing.
- Once you’ve got that appetite, discover as many different fields of tech to focus on what interests you. Do you want to work with code? Are you interest in cyber security or app building? Or perhaps you’re more of a people person and would make a great consultant or sales person.
- You need to think about how to stand out from the crowd. What will set you apart from other people? Have you built an app or your own device? Do you have a website you can push? Work out how to be unique and focus on that.
- Similarly, make sure you have an opinion on AI. It’s what everyone is talking about at the moment and you want to be involved in whatever is trending in tech right now. Be your own person, but make sure you know what the latest buzz is, too.
- Finally, network like crazy. Set up a LinkedIn profile and connect with as many people as you can. Do you have any relatives or friends who work in tech already? Build up a relationship with them and ask questions. If you’re attending a Workplace Safari, ask questions of the presenters and make your voice heard. It’s never too early to begin building your personal brand!