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Exa inspires learners for Bradford Skills Month 2022

This October marked the first ever Bradford Skills Month – a city-wide event that aimed to help young people in Bradford develop skills needed for the workplace, and encourage their career choices.

The event was born from the amalgamation of Tech Week – which was co-founded by Exa’s Co-founder and Commercial Director Mark Cowgill – and Manufacturing week which usually took place separately in the month of October. 

This year Exa and The Exa Foundation hosted and presented three types of events in the city over several weeks. The events were attended by a wide range of individuals from around Bradford, and beyond, and all helped to engage attendees with digital learning and computer technology.

Games at National Science & Media Museum

For Tech Week, four events were held at the National Science & Media Museum on the 7th and 8th October. The days were themed around games, with activities including an exhibition of challenges and Q&A sessions, and a careers event with information about routes into the games industry. 

As part of the event, our own Specialist Leader in Education, Alan O’Donohoe, captained Player vs Player: Unplugged. The event included a Victorian games parlour, and a talking game called ‘Werewolf. Attendees tried their hand at different Victorian games, using problem solving and computational thinking skills which are still relevant to the gaming industry today. 

Careers in Tech

The Exa Foundation invited school groups to our Bradford HQ to hear real experiences of people working in tech. Staff involved in the event came from different departments in the business, including Research & Development, Networking, and Marketing teams. Alan presented the event like a chat show, interviewing each team member.

Richard Halfpenny, our Network Engineering Architect, discussed fibre optic technology, with a demonstration of the different cables used to provide Exa customers with fast broadband. Our Marketing Manager, Cassie Irving, talked about the difficulties of starting work after finishing education. During the talk, she offered ways attendees could bridge the gap between college, or university, and the workplace.

The schools involved included Shirley Manor Primary School, Fulneck School, and Shipley College. Each session was tailored to the visitor’s age group, and provided pupils with valuable information on working in tech. 

Digital Skills Camp

Following our , we hosted a Digital Skills Camp at Exa HQ. The event ran from 24th to 26th October, with a Digital Skills Fair on the 27th. 

As well as enhancing their computing knowledge, participants were able to earn digital badges, to recognise the skills they had learnt. These badges were issued by Bradford City Council’s SkillsHouse team, Cities of Learning, as part of Bradford Skills Month.

Day One focused on Information Security, and taught attendees how to protect themselves, others and information from unauthorised access. During the session attendees:

  • Gained an understanding of key terms in Information Security.
  • Took part in practical activities related to Information Security learning how to limit the threat of Brute Force attacks.
  • Participated in group learning activities to help others learn about Information Security.

Participants demonstrated their understanding of Information Security, earning an Information Security Expert Learner Badge.

Days Two and Three were related to a Digital Project Developer Badge. Participants proposed, created and developed a digital solution to a real world problem, using a Raspberry Pi computer, kindly donated by consumer electronics company CPC. They presented their proposals to an audience and explained how their solution solved the problem. 

Over the two days, attendees:

  • Identified a real world issue they could potentially solve using technology
  • Used their digital skills to develop a digital solution to the real world issue
  • Presented their project to an audience 

During the Camp, participants worked in a collaborative nature, helping each other overcome challenges and support ideas. The event offered an opportunity for young people to learn about the digital landscape in a practical, tactile way. 

Following the Digital Skills Camp, we hosted a Digital Skills Fair which was attended by 50 parents, teachers and college staff, who got to see what the participants had learnt, and the solutions they had created. 

To celebrate their hard work, participants were awarded with certificates to accompany their digital badges at an awards ceremony presented by Laura Slevin, Learning Partnership Manager at Bradford Council’s SkillsHouse.  

Bradford Skills Month has been a true celebration of personal development, helping young people learn skills that can be used in and out of school, and the workplace they’re about to enter. We look forward to hosting more of these events for the Bradford community during next year’s Skills Month.

Our work through The Exa Foundation can provide schools an opportunity for pupils to benefit from hands-on experience with communication technology. If you’d like to learn more, visit the website.

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