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Work Experience Week with Digital Kent

Digital Kent has completed its third and final week of Work Experience to tremendous success. Over the course of three weeks, we had three cohorts of young people from across Kent join us for a programme developed specially by our Strategy Development Adviser, Uwaila Uwaechia. Uwaila created separate projects for each group, focused on developing the young peoples’ interpersonal skills, teamwork, and communication skills, as well as a whole host of other practical abilities which can be taken forward into employment. Although before the pandemic, KCC had previously participated in providing face to face work experiences for young people, as the organisation has now moved to hybrid working, as a result of the pandemic, it has become increasingly difficult to offer a meaningful work experience to young people. Digital Kent created a hybrid work experience framework that we hope can be applied to many other departments within KCC.

Each group of young people were given a task to complete for their week with our team, alongside meeting members of our own team to share their career journeys and offering advice. Our Digital Lead, Sam Lain-Rose, spoke to the young people about Digital Kent, overview of the Council, its services and the roles and responsibilities of both districts and parish councils. Our Engagement and Skills Manager, Chloe Johnstone, delivered employability skills sessions drawn from her background, having worked in the Employability Skills sector for over ten years, and as a member of the Institute of Employability Professionals.

The first cohort of young people consisted of 3 students from across Kent, one from Tonbridge School, one from Northfleet School for Girls, and a first-year Law student from Cambridge University. The group was tasked with creating a workshop to teach those in KS3 (with extensions for KS4/KS5) about their Digital Footprints, how a person’s digital footprint affects them and how to protect your digital footprint. They interspersed the information with activities such as checking your online profile, seeing how secure your passwords are, and a Kahoot quiz to test how well the audience paid attention and learned from their presentation. The presentation at the end of their week to the rest of the team was fantastic, and they created something they should be very proud of. We were very pleased with the feedback we had from Northfleet School for Girls: Chris Norwood, headteacher at Northfleet, wrote to us saying “Northfleet School for Girls would like to thank you for taking the time and effort to have our students for Work Experience week. We really appreciate your help with this. Our students have come back very happy from their week away from school and have learnt some valuable life skills which has helped develop their self-confidence.”

Our next group was made up of two students, one from the Marsh Academy and the other from Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys respectively. Their task for the week was to create a plan to pilot a Digital Hub in Larkfield Library, and to carefully consider how this scheme would operate if put into place. Their idea was to host a digital hub within Larkfield library with areas that could host 1-2-1 sessions, group sessions and independent learning simultaneously. The Hub would be staffed with Digital Champions, volunteers from our Digital Champions Network that has over 400 volunteers to date. The two students did a great deal of research before giving their presentation, creating a proposal for a hub that was accessible to anyone and everyone who would need to use it. They even did research into the budget and how money could be raised to make sure the Digital Hub would be sustainable and affordable. It was so wonderful to see the work they put in and how thorough they were, and we hope to take onboard some of their fantastic ideas in our future projects!