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Small Heath school trail-blazes 'digital by default' to improve employability

Skills and Enterprise Minister, Matthew Hancock MP, visited Birmingham's Small Heath secondary school, to see how an innovative digital approach from Mercato Solutions is speeding up the process of up-skilling students for employment.

Skills & Enterprise Minister, Matthew Hancock MP, visited Birmingham’s Small Heath secondary school, to see how an innovative digital approach from Mercato Solutions is speeding up the process of up-skilling students for employment. And if an initial pilot proves successful, it is hoped the scheme will be rolled out across the UK. 

The school is aiming to bridge the knowledge and skills gap between education and the commercial world with a landmark award based on the CBI’s seven-point employability framework. 

The Skills Award is designed specifically to deliver employability through the curriculum and work-related learning and is part of the Birmingham Baccalaureate initiative, which has involved seven hundred Birmingham schoolchildren from 11 schools.

Matthew Hancock MP, Minister for Skills & Enterprise, visited Small Heath School to see the new award in action and pupils at Small Heath demonstrated how it is being delivered online.

Small Heath’s project leader, Richard Riley, explained there had to be a better way to implement the award process than a traditional time intensive, unengaging paper based approach.

As a leader amongst the Birmingham technology quarter, software business Mercato gave the school access to its innovative KnowledgeKube platform to take the initiative online and make it ‘digital by default’.

KnowledgeKube is a flexible software platform that enables non-programmers to build and deploy applications that automate business processes.

“We wanted to make the Award Scheme as efficient as possible.  That is, speedup the process of up-skilling students at the same time as minimising teacher intervention,” said Small Heath’s Richard Riley.

“Working with Mercato, and without anyone writing a single line of software code, we were able to use KnowledgeKube to create a bespoke Award Scheme application.

“Within a short time, we automated all the processes associated with the Award Scheme, customising the learning experience to individual students, from question sets to certificate production, work placement matching and reporting. 

“As a result, our throughput of awards has increased without teacher intervention and much of this is down to the simple and engaging user experience the Award now delivers.  Students want to get involved.”

Kate Canty, Chair of the Birmingham Employment and Skills Board LEP, said: “Not enough young people have been coming out of education with the skills required for business.

“This pilot is putting employability at the forefront of education and should be highly commended for its innovative web-based approach. The Minister’s visit acknowledges that.  Fundamentally, this pilot is equipping students with career skills and we must learn from it before rolling out.”

Peter Robbins, Managing Director at Mercato Solutions, said: “Skills shortages affect growth and impact productivity as well as increase the hiring cost per skilled worker. 

“Up-skilling students for jobs is therefore critical and we recognised KnowledgeKube could very easily quicken the Award process to get more relevant and better skilled students prepared for employment.”

Posted on 06 December 2013
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