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Why do employers need creative skills?

Maker skills are being increasingly utilised by employers. In this video Alison explores why.
John Barber joins me from the Work-Wise Foundation, a charity helping engineering companies and manufacturing firms to connect with young people. Welcome, John. Thank you, Alison, good to see you. Can you start by telling me a little bit about Work-wise and some of the programmes that you’re involved in? Yeah, sure, yes. So Work-Wise, we’re an employer-led charity based in South Yorkshire. So we cover the Sheffield City region. We were set up about 10 years ago by - led by engineering and manufacturing business leaders, because basically they said we’ve got a shortage of young people coming into our sector.
And those young people that are coming into the sector, just maybe aren’t work ready, don’t understand what the world of engineering, manufacturing, the world of STEM is all about. So basically, they said that’s a problem for us. We’ve got a skills shortage. It’s going to grow. What can we do about it? So really, they helped us set up Work-wise as a project initially, but it then became a charity sort of three or four years later. And basically we’re all about bringing those worlds of education and business together. So we sort of sit in that middle ground. We are brokers, translators.
And we come up with programmes, initiatives to help young people to understand what the world of industry is all about - engineering, manufacturing - but also to help them develop those wraparound employability skills. Every year, you host an amazing event, Get Up To Speed With STEM, where you bring together, I mean, just an amazing amount of engineering and manufacturing businesses, organisations to inspire the future generation in STEM. Can you tell us a bit about that? Sure, Alison, yes. We’ve run Get Up To Speed With STEM for 10 years now. Started in Sheffield 10 years ago. We moved it to Magna in Rotherham six years ago now because we needed a bigger space.
And basically, what we do is we fill Magna with lots of exciting engineered stuff, science. So everything from McLaren cars, to Rolls-Royce and jet engines, to medical implants, to sports technology, to technology within the army, the navy, the air force. So really just showcasing everything out there. We’ve got 4,000 engineering and manufacturing companies in Sheffield City Region all doing different stuff from traditional corporate manufacturing to high-tech, artificial intelligence technologies, stuff like that. And really it’s just showing young people that all of that exists. So we bring amazing companies in. They can’t come unless they do something amazing and interactive, Alison. And then we bring in young people to hands-on experience all of that.
Again, from primary-aged young people through to graduates, undergraduates. We have students at the university who get involved in that as well. And it’s all about inspiring. It’s all about saying, you can be part of this. Last event, we had over 120 exhibitors and four and a half thousand visitors from 70 schools, families - actually across the North of England now. So it’s a lot of work each year, but it really does showcase to young people just what opportunities are out there. And also to the people who influence them, parents and teachers.
Because it’s all right us inspiring young people, but if mum and dad say, oh, no, you want to go into that industry because there’s no jobs, or you want to do this instead, we want them to come into our industry. So yeah, it’s a great day. It’s a great experience, and we get some fantastic feedback. What kind of skills do young people need to develop for these sectors? OK, so I think in terms of skills, it’s - for me - the character skills, first of all. The things that make you, you. There’s your knowledge, what you learn in education, what you learn in life, and then the skills to actually work in industry.
So that’s your skills from - you know it might be practical hands-on skills, problem-solving skills. For me, everybody’s got talents. Everybody’s got some sort of creativity within them. Obviously, if you’re talking about engineering, manufacturing, technology, creative, that’s how we sort of change the world. If you look around the room we’re in today, everything has been invented, created. And that needs creative people to do that. So this course that we’re running is predominately about makerspaces. So how could makerspaces kind of fit into this picture and be useful for the young people coming through wanting to gain more employability skills? And also for the sector as a whole, why are makerspaces starting to become kind of a crucial role in that?
I think they’re becoming they’re crucial role because there’s been a gap, nobody’s filled that space. It’s about that hands-on, that creativity, that let’s have a go, let’s get sleeves rolled up, let’s have a go at it. Some young people learn well in a classroom, in an academic situation. A lot don’t. We see so many young people, and you look at industry out there. So many industry leaders weren’t necessarily academic and bright at school. But they were good with their hands, or they were good at making things, or understanding, or problem-solving. And I think what makerspaces does is give young people the opportunity to experiment, to be creative, and try out new things and learn new skills.
So obviously, John, you work with an enormous amount of businesses, manufacturing, and engineering firms around the region. Do you see them kind of embodying the makerspace elements within? Have you seen that anywhere? Yeah, yeah, a lot of the companies work with really and on different scales. So you go from the big companies like Liberty Steel, Tinsley Bridgeway. It’s a big makerspace. They’re making big stuff, and young people get to see that. Through to more traditional industries like Chimo Holdings, who make traditional cutlery so it’s a little master. So you see a handmade spoon, or a fork, or a knife, and you see the whole - that really is a makerspace. And another great example is Jenx in Sheffield, of course.
So Jenx is sort of making the equipment for young people with disabilities. So they’re making bespoke transport wheelchairs for them to get around. You go in there, and literally, it is a makerspace. It’s got everything from sort of the hard manufacturing, to the woodworking, to glue gunning stuff, to sewing. And everything is bespoke. Everything is individually tailored to that young person. So if you want to see one space that embodies lots of different maker activities, Jenx is a perfect example of that. And they are great supporters of the work we do. I’ve been to Jenx and I completely agree with you. And in fact, our learners will be hearing a little bit more from Jenx in a while. That’s great.
It’s been really great to talk to you John today. So thank you very much for coming in. You’re welcome, Alison. Lovely to see you again. Cheers.

In this video, Alison speaks to the organiser of a STEM event for children to see how makerskills are being utilised by employers.

John Barber from WorkWise organises Get Up to Speed (GUTS), an event that encourages children to consider STEM-inspired careers. He and Alison talk about why employers are increasingly looking for staff with maker skills.

What careers do you think would most benefit from a maker attitude?

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