“Well Done, Considerably Better than I was Expecting”
So let me start with a question: what connects the explorer Ernest Shackleton, the manufacture of paper aeroplanes, a fire in a fictitious factory in Taiwan and footballs with personal questions written on them?
The answer is that they all featured in this year’s UKESF Scholar Workshop, which was held earlier this month at the University of York. Attended by 53 scholars who had just completed their work placements with their sponsors, the workshop was – as one participant said in their feedback – considerably better than they were expecting.
The workshop can sometimes be an overlooked part of the UKESF Scholarship Scheme; however, in my experience, it is often the point that the scholars really ‘get it’. ‘Get it’ in the sense of their understanding of the bigger picture about the UKESF’s role in tackling the skill challenge and, importantly, a realisation that they have a part to play by getting involved with inspiring the next generation.
That said, the key focus of the workshop is the broader development of the scholars, away from their academic and technical environment. Why is this important?
The answer can be partially found in research undertaken by the World Economic Forum. They identified the top 10 workplace skills that will be required in 2020; the list included: complex problem solving, critical thinking, negotiation, emotional intelligence and coordinating with others. The content of the workshop provides insights and a chance to learn about these topics, in a safe and supportive environment. We were fortunate this year to have world-class experts to help deliver sessions on emotional intelligence, communications and rapport building, a senior industry figure to talk about business ethics and a really engaging manufacturing exercise to illustrate the principles of Lean processing. In four days, we can only provide an introduction to a range of topics that all deserve much more time; nevertheless, the engagement, learning and reflection from the scholars throughout was commendable.
At the end of the Workshop I came away heartened that, once again, the cohort of scholars was a really impressive and interesting group of young people, committed to careers in Electronics. Our aim is to try and provide the benefits of a UKESF Scholarship to more students. To do this, we need more companies to get involved by offering to sponsor a scholar. You never know, it could work out considerably better than they were expecting.