The University of Sheffield will host a competition for a project set up to develop academic, employability, and active citizenship skills in young people.
The Speak Out Initiative, run by Dr Andreana Drencheva from the University of Sheffield’s Management School, works with young people under-represented in higher education to enhance their academic and career aspirations.
The initiative is run in partnership with local businesses Irwin Mitchell, Jaywing, BHP and Andy Hanselman consulting. This year’s participating schools are Meadowhead, Chaucer and Sheffield Park Academy.
For six weeks groups of young people meet with mentors from the University of Sheffield and businesses to work on a project for social change. The initiative is designed to help develop skills, such as collaborative problem solving, communicating in diverse teams, and decision making.
This year’s challenge is tackling loneliness and the teams will have to research the problem in their local community and develop a project that will make a meaningful difference.
The final projects will be presented to representatives from the University, businesses, and Age UK at an event on Friday 15 March 2019 at The Edge. The groups must demonstrate the sustainability of the project, why it makes a difference and what resources it would need.
Dr Drencheva said: “The initiative is a meaningful and authentic way to express our historic roots and civic commitment to our communities, while also enhancing the employability of our current learners.
“It’s a unique opportunity for the young people involved to develop new employability and citizenship skills, to experience university life first-hand and to meet authentic role models who share their experiences to demystify the multiple options young people have after school.”
The competition day also includes networking and reflection to help the young people identify their strengths, areas for development and the pathways open to them after school.
Speak Out has been running since 2016, and evaluation from prior years shows that 93 per cent of the young people considered the initiative was helpful in developing team-working skills and 94 per cent found it useful for developing communications skills.