For those in the know, BIMA or The British Interactive Media Association is a not-for-profit industry body representing the digital industry in the UK. Following a survey of its members, BIMA identified that 95% of businesses asked were being held back by a skills shortage. It’s no surprise, when you consider that the digital sector has been growing two times faster than the wider economy.
The question is, how to prepare a workforce with the adequate skills to meet the demand? BIMA’s Digital Day initiative introduces students and their local digital talent, to encourage young people to begin thinking about their path to a future digital career. Some statistics on the initiative:
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Four members of the Cold Banana Team grabbed their packed lunches and backpacks, and headed to the Bishop of Winchester Academy in Bournemouth. Leading the team was Ollie, the agency’s Head of Support, Project Manager Matt, Commercial Manager Alex and Cold Banana newcomer, Marketing Manager Ellen, and for the first time in a long time (some longer than others...), the team headed through the school gates.
Met by Aspirations, Careers and Work Experience Lead Kirsten, the team settled into the classroom and met the thirty students, who were hand selected as shining talent in their Computer Science classes.
The day began with the team introducing themselves, explaining how they themselves came to be working for a specialist web development agency. Students aged between the age of 13 and 15 were interested to know that three of the four weren’t sure of their career path at the same age. Each member of the team went into more detail about their current role, and how different roles in their past career had led them to the door of technology.
Next came the clients and portfolio of Cold Banana. Despite being a relatively small team, the agency has served clients of all shape, sizes and varieties. Every project is unique and requires a technical and creative solution of its own. There’s never a dull day in a digital agency!
Following the Cold Banana presentation, the BIMA challenges were laid down. Three major sponsors put forward their own challenge for students across the nation to tackle: Create a technological solution to engage young people in tennis to get them active, Invent a piece of technology to solve an environmental problem and How can you get the next generation interested in a career in the digital world? Teams began preparing their presentation for Cold Banana’s Managing Director, Luke Fribbens. A developer, an entrepreneur and a mentor, Luke would be inspecting all elements of the presentation, for the winning team to be awarded.
The six groups of four students wasted no time at all, selecting their favorite challenge and planning out their project. Straightaway, it was evident that the challenges were no match for the bright students! The BIMA challenge packs included helpful tips, so that the project was planned methodically, and teams soon began delegating tasks to their team mates. What exactly is the problem, and how were they going to solve it?
As Team Banana know only too well, the tried-and-tested approach to problem solving is to work as a collaborative group, with every person presenting their own ideas without judgement. The next step is to be critical, to see which ideas are the best. With so many good ideas being presented, this step took a while to get going but eventually all teams were agreed.
The first team to take up the tennis challenge chose wearable technology as the basis for their solution. An augmented reality app with a wearable device encouraged players to get outside and find a virtual opponent, including avatars of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. They correctly identified the success of other AR games, and were confident that their presentation would convince their target audience to get active with tennis.
Their peers in the second tennis challenge thought along the same lines, identifying themselves as their target audience, and making the decision to bring out the competitive nature of young people and their own love of games to produce a commercial campaign. For a professional finish to their presentation, the team designed their own logo, using graphic design software.
The teams adopting the environmental challenges went in very different directions. The first group, who branded their solution ‘SandyCash’ decided to take on the issue of ocean plastic pollution, targeting seaside polluters. Their presentation introduced the challenge adjudicator, Luke, to their illustrated logo, mascots and concept. SandyCash is a tech solution that involved beachgoers of all ages to pick up litter in exchange for rewards, and even an age-appropriate story mode for young participants; an apt solution for their local Bournemouth Beach.
Not to be outdone, the second environmental challengers decided to tackle two problems with two integrated solutions. The problem of ocean pollution was to be solved with a submarine litter picker, which participants could operate via a remote gaming platform. Players could pick up litter underwater and return it to the submarine’s dock, where it could be recycled. Of course, every game needs and incentive, so the team’s second solution of a responsibly sourced fish restaurant would offer discounts to players with a high score of ‘rescued rubbish’. Talk about going over and above what’s required!
Team Digishop deliberated over too many different ideas, so returned to the brief. After pinpointing a target audience of 13-15 year old's with skills and interest that didn’t include technology. They decided to launch a workshop much like the Digital Day, with a goal of including the students taking subjects other than Computer Science, to represent the diversity of skills in the digital agency hosting the Digital Day. The workshop would set challenges to groups of students - each group having a Computer Science student, as well as a student representative English, Math's, Business, Art and Graphic Design. Using each team member to their own potential, their presentation even included branded products!
Last but by no means least, the second team taking on the digital challenge decided to solve the problem by demonstrating the path to success for their own digital hero. The team decided to describe their hero’s experience, and how similar it was to every person in the room. Finally, they revealed that the story was that of programmer-turned-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, effectively delivering a punchy presentation that highlighted how achievable a successful career in technology could be.
Plenty of consideration went into the digital career engagement challengers’ projects. Lots of good ideas fell by the wayside and two brilliant ideas took to the fore.
Kirsten Bryan-Brown, who coordinated the Bishop of Winchester school-agency partnership, said “We were really delighted with how the day went. The support from the team was perfect in terms of nudging the students in the right direction and encouraging them to really think about answering the challenge, but leaving them enough space so that the proposals really were their own.”
Though there were six fully formed, outstanding presentations and solutions, there could be only one winner. After careful consideration, Luke announced the winner to be Team SandyCash. He said the idea was “relevant, innovative and particularly relevant” and a concept that he believes would interest investors if they saw the presentation tomorrow.
With their incredible work ethic, innovative ideas and the teamwork in spades, Cold Banana will certainly be ready to welcome these driven young individuals, when the time comes to enter the digital workforce...which could be sooner than anybody expected, as students were already asking how they could choose Cold Banana as their work experience!
If you think your talents are something Cold Banana would be interested in, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org