The Sky Academy invited FE Week reporter Paul Offord to look around its new Careers Lab that will give thousands of 16 to 19-year-olds the opportunity to learn about job opportunities available at the broadcasting giant and wider media, business and technology sectors.
Broadcasting giant Sky hopes to plant seeds of inspiration in thousands of young minds through its new Careers Lab.
Almost 1,000 16 to 19-year-old learners were involved between July and November with developing and testing the lab at the Sky headquarters in Osterley, West London, and more than 100 have already spent a day there, since it was officially opened by the Prince of Wales on December 2.
The facilities include interactive displays based on Sky News and Sky News, with explanations about how stories are broken and developed for broadcast.
Another section dedicated to innovation demonstrates the difference between standard definition, high definition, ultra high definition and three-dimensional television and invites learners to watch footage through immersive reality headsets.
Nishy Lall, Sky Academy manager, said: “The idea is to try to inspire the students. They start off their visits with a session where they are challenged to explain their employability skills.
“They will also check out our interactive displays and have a question and answer session with an executive from Sky before being set a challenge to work on — which could for example to look at how we can sell Sky services such a TV channels to more people.”
Groups of learners from colleges and schools can visit the Careers Lab free-of-charge for day-long sessions which either focus on careers relating to media, technology or Business.
It forms part of the Sky Academy that also includes the existing Skills Studios, also based at Osterley, where school and college learners are invited to film, present and edit news report broadcasts based on a subject they are studying. More than 20,000 young people have taken part since it opened in 2012.
Sky is currently training 196 level two to four apprentices for example in journalism, customer services, business administration, software development and creative and digital media, in partnership with a number of independent learning providers including QA, which has bases across England, Scotland and Ireland, Outsource, which has bases across England, and London-based Creative Process.
Bella Vuillermoz, Sky Academy director, said: “We decided on a major expansion of our apprenticeship scheme last year and took on around 100 new apprentices.
“We are coming up to the 25th anniversary of the launch of the company and wanted to do something special with our training building up to that, which of course also involved opening the Careers Lab.”
Level three technical analyst apprentice with Sky, Chafik Yahiaoui, aged 22, said: “I work in the broadcasting department. If there is ever a problem with technology behind putting out reports and shows then it is all hands to the deck to fix it.
“It’s quite exciting and could involve anything from supporting post-production to broadcasting support software.
“I would definitely recommend apprenticeships. Experience on the job develops a lot of life and work skills that you can’t get from university.”
Level four apprentice software developer with Sky, Priscilla Ossai, 21, said: “I think I was one of those people who was a little bit stuck after finishing school.
“I had put in to study investment banking at Reading University, but had realised before finishing my A-levels that I actually wanted to study IT. The apprenticeship with Sky therefore kind of saved my life.
“It didn’t go down well initially with my relations when I told them I wasn’t going to do a degree, as everyone in my family normally goes to university, but I think seeing I’m being paid as I learn has won them over.”
Colleges can go to https://teachers.sky.com/ to book a visit to the Sky Lab.
Just stepping on to the grounds of Sky’s broadcasting centre was hugely inspiring for a seasoned journalist with 15 years of experience — so I can hardly imagine how exciting the whole experience of the Careers Lab must be for young learners, writes Paul Offord.
I was extremely impressed with the interactive display, which contained a lot of useful information on a broad spectrum or careers available at Sky and the wider media, business and technology sectors.
It contained a good mix of mediums to get the message across and I was particularly blown away by the immersive reality headset. I hadn’t tried one of those before and they are incredible.
I also think it’s a good idea that the Careers Lab staff take the trouble to actually speak to the learners, particularly through question and answer sessions, as there is still an important role for human interaction in developing our future workforce.