With a pretty strong southern accent and a surname like South, the last thing you’d expect is for me to be from the North of England. Well, I am and am incredibly proud of my North West roots.
I was born in Blackpool and spent the first four years of my life in Lytham St Anne’s, living with my parents in my grandparents’ house. My parents were 19 when I was born and they eventually made the difficult decision to leave the North, as my dad got a job in a London based tech firm and at the time this route was the only option, due to a lack of prospects in the local area.
Whilst I’ve been ‘down South’ for most of my life I have a strong connection to the North West and have visited my family home many times every year since I’ve left, as the majority of my family still live in the area. When the opportunity arose to be involved in the Changing Horizons event at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool I absolutely jumped at the chance to give back to the local community, something which I’ve not had the chance to do before.
Beyond the façade of Blackpool promenade with the Pleasure Beach, illuminations, rock shops and the tower, there is a community of people looking for career prospects. Blackpool has recently been listed by the Education Secretary Justine Greening as one of six ‘Social Mobility Cold Spots’. This initiative will provide funding in a number of areas, including getting children the best start in the early years and further work with employers to improve young people’s access to the right advice and experiences.
The Changing Horizons event was designed by the North West Civil Service to give 700 local young people in the Blackpool area, aged 10-11 and 15-16, the opportunity to see what a huge range of career prospects and opportunities are out there. To not sell themselves short and to make them realise that any career is possible.
Armed with virtual reality goggles, brochures and freebies I attended the event with two of our apprentices, Abi and Aine, and several cross UK team members who came together to inspire the young people to consider a career in tech.
Throughout the day we were inundated with requests from young people wanting to find out more about tech careers and experience VR. I was overwhelmed by their enthusiasm, interest and determination. There was so much curiosity and excitement at the prospect of being able to build apps, design virtual reality software or invent technology that could make life easier. It really brought to life what it could be like to work in this amazing industry to the young people and teachers.
Having worked in the apprenticeships area for the last 16 months I realise now more than ever that as a country we have a digital skills gap that we need to fill. The roles in tech are growing, technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence are becoming best practice in businesses and we need to build the skills to keep up with the pace and make the United Kingdom the place to be for digital careers.
For those of us lucky enough to work in this exciting industry I feel that it’s our role to continue to carry the essence of the Changing Horizons event throughout all of our interactions with young people and also with those who perhaps are looking for an alternative career route. It’s never too early or too late to start planning your career in tech and we need to keep the momentum going to engage the next generation.
I’m incredibly proud that Capgemini supports events such as Changing Horizons and if you get the chance to do something for your local community in any aspect, go for it. I definitely came away feeling inspired, energised and wanting to do more!