Our Lady & St John HIgh School watching Learn Live

Lancashire Schools Tune In To Career Opportunities Via Live Video Link-Ups With Local Firms

Innovative ‘Learn Live’ service streams real-time Q&A with construction professionals from Robertson Group into the county’s classrooms

An innovative education project developed in Lancashire is helping to inspire young people, and get them to think about possible career choices, by connecting them directly to local employers via a series of live TV broadcasts.

Backed by the LEP’s Lancashire Skills & Employment Hub, the ‘Learn Live’ programme has already seen nearly 40 local schools taking part from across the county.

As a result, thousands of pupils from across Lancashire have been able to experience first-hand what life is like in the offices, factories, workshops, construction sites, shops, warehouses and laboratories of some of the region’s most innovative SMEs – without having to leave the classroom.

Based on a number of LEP’s priority employment sectors, local companies – including ROQ – (Creative and Digital), Herbert Parkinson (Manufacturing), NHS East Lancs CCG (Health and Social Care), and Cummins Mellor (Professional Services) – have all got involved, broadcasting from their workplaces, via a broadband connection, into schools and showing students what working in their industry is really like on a day-to-day basis.

Their live streams have been beamed into classes through interactive whiteboards, classroom projectors or via individual computers, and pupils have been able to interact with company staff and ask questions during the broadcast.

This week the latest sector to be profiled via a Learn Live broadcast was the construction industry. Robertson Group, one of the largest independently owned construction, infrastructure and support services companies in the UK, hooked up with over schools across Lancashire to tell pupils about working in the building and property development sectors.

The session featured a mix of recorded footage from Blackburn’s Newfield School, where Robertson Group is working on a £4m extension to create a new Autism centre, together with a live Q&A with one of Robertson’s quantity surveyor apprentices and a health and safety manager.

Learn Live’s founder and managing director is Chorley-based Stuart Heaton, who started the business in 2015. Since then, he has seen the service deliver over 300 live broadcasts, reaching over 250,000 young people in schools, colleges and other educational institutions across the UK. Over 1,200 schools and colleges have also engaged with Learn Live’s extensive library of on-demand video content, which is often complemented by live, interactive Q&As with industry professionals.

Stuart Heaton said: “Despite the great efforts of careers advisors and teachers, it can be very hard to show young people what the world of work is really like.

“In some professions, such as construction, there is also a huge demand for apprentices and graduates across a wide range of roles, but it can be difficult for firms to demonstrate the rewarding careers on offer.

“Learn Live looks to address some of these issues, and it allows thousands of pupils across Lancashire to get an insight into job roles and industry sectors that they may never have contemplated before. They also can ask questions directly to professionals who actually do this type of work for a living, while they are actually doing it.

“Through video streaming we can also take whole classes into workplaces, which would be impossible to do through a traditional school enrichment trip due to logistics, health and safety issues and costs.”

Dr Michele Lawty-Jones of the LEP’s Skills & Employment Hub said: “We fully support the Learn Live programme as it fits perfectly with our other school engagement and student employability strategies, which are designed to bring companies and learners much closer together.

“We are particularly keen on promoting priority sectors like construction, where there is a huge demand for all types of skilled staff across Lancashire, but where local employers can struggle to attract enough young people.

“The recent Robertson broadcast helped to show students exactly what quantity surveyors and health and safety managers do, while also showing a major building project in progress in Blackburn.

“This is a great example of how a project like Learn Live can help us engage with schools and showcase the breadth of career opportunities in the construction sector that are available in Lancashire.”

Rachael Atkin is responsible for community development for Robertson North West. She said: “Working with our public-sector partners to address shared issues always brings the best possible outcomes. Our partnership with the LEP and Learn Live helped to introduce large numbers of young people to careers in our sector –  a great way to show them what an inspiring industry construction is! Robertson is incredibly pleased to be a part of the LEP’s overall strategy in addressing future skills gaps.”

Andrew Larkin from Our Lady & St John High School in Blackburn said: “Our students found the Robertson live broadcast both informative and engaging. The fact that it was live from various locations with an apprentice talking about his role made a huge impact on our student’s learning and understanding of this sector. We also liked the way that students could interact with the technology and ask questions and receive feedback direct from the staff at Robertson in real time on screen, making the session much more engaging than traditional classroom learning.”

Learn Live is just one a series of initiatives supported by the Lancashire Skills & Employment Hub that aim to drive more employer and school engagement. Starting in January 2016, the Hub – working with specialist careers and employment consultants Inspira – created a network of volunteer ‘Enterprise Advisers’ drawn from Lancashire-based businesses who are paired with local schools. The network is co-funded by LCC and the Careers and Enterprise Company.

Schools work together with these local firms to get young people to think about different employment pathways, career choices and the world of work.

The Hub is also using the £430m City Deal for Lancashire, Preston and South Ribble to inspire pupils in secondary schools to think about skills like engineering, architecture, planning and construction.

One highly successful City Deal project is called ‘Bridge the Gap’, a classroom activity developed with STEMfirst, which involves challenging teams to build a Lego bridge across the River Ribble on a special City Deal map with support from employers.

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