Chalk Newsletter: December 2021

This month, we discover more about some local projects for young people in Eastbourne: You've perhaps heard of Eastbourne Youth Radio in the past - you might even have taken part in it yourself - but do you know it’s just one of a series of employability initiatives organised by the Eastbourne Education Business Partnership (EEBP) connecting students with local businesses and the wider community? If the answer is 'no', keep reading!

The team at Chalk Eastbourne all wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy 2022 - perhaps we'll finally meet you in person! 🎄

With best wishes from Sarah, Donna, Garry, and all the team x

In the news

A new home for TechResort!

Eastbourne-based CIC TechResort have recently moved into new premises just a stone's throw from Eastbourne Pier, at 23A Cavendish Place.

Having realised they've not been accessible enough to some of the people they really want and need to work with, they've found a new base close to the centre of town with a large, bright and welcoming shop front and a basement to use as a workshop.

They will still retain a small presence at East Sussex College, where TechResort has been based for the past four years, to build on their work with the students.

The main programme of events will start early in 2022. If you have a burning desire to learn about some aspect of digital creativity, would like help with digital skills, or would like to find out more, get in touch with the team so they can design sessions with you in mind. We hope to share more here about TechResort in the new year too.

Find out more

Shout Out

Could you become a business advisor for Young Enterprise?

Young Enterprise, whose programmes develop key employability skills outside of the classroom, is on the lookout for business advisors, as well as board members, sponsors and supporters.

The role of the business advisor is to develop the potential of the young people you work with to help them run a successful student company and to reflect and learn from the experience.

Find out more

Featured Profile

This month we caught up with Tim Sorensen and Faiza Shafeek to learn more about the EEBP and its projects.

Faiza, Tim, we know you’ve recently run Eastbourne Youth Radio for its 21st year - how did it go this year?

Tim: “We had a great three days of broadcasting for this year’s Eastbourne Youth Radio, with mostly live performances, ranging from choirs and bands to soloists and debates, plus the usual craziness from the students at Cavendish School who did a challenge of trying to talk whilst eating as many marshmallows as possible. One broadcast that really stood out this year was a fantastic live performance of Bugsy Malone by Ratton School ahead of their show at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre in January.

“EYR is made possible by the fantastic team at East Sussex College and the nearly 40 businesses who sponsor programmes. Engagement was a little lower this year due to Brexit and COVID-19 implications, but we still had great enthusiasm and support as always. We’re now looking forward to EYR in November 2022.”

Faiza: “The enthusiasm was very high this year and we had a great launch with the mayor, our MP, and the supporting local businesses. Over the 21 years of EYR, we’ve supported over 32,000 learning experiences for students with many involved more than once and Tim’s been there since day 1! The children are elated after being on the radio and it really gives another dimension to education.”

Wow, how did EYR start initially?

Tim: “Not wanting to claim all the glory, yes, I launched EYR with some local colleagues and one of the local primary headteachers as a vehicle for supporting the Single Regeneration Budget initiative run by Eastbourne Borough Council. I was looking for a platform to engage local schools and students through their citizenship agenda. The idea of a town-wide youth radio project took hold, starting with 12 sponsors and a handful of schools, and it’s grown year on year.

“It brings the community together with children as young as 5 or 6 taking part, right up to college-age students, working with local businesses. It’s run by the young people for the young people and it wouldn’t happen without their enthusiasm. We just provide what they need in terms of licences and facilities. The teachers also put a great deal of effort into making this happen. Some past students have been involved for many years and have gone on to careers in broadcasting, and sometimes come back and help too - it’s one big family. It’s not all about creating future radio talent though, EYR helps put a great deal of learning into context and allows students to go away with a whole raft of employability and problem-solving skills.”

Faiza: “The children are elated after being on the radio and it really gives another dimension to education.”

Can you tell us more about Eastbourne Education Business Partnership - why was it set up and has its objectives evolved over the years?

Tim: “Going back to 1985, an initiative was launched called Industry Matters. Eastbourne was part of that structure and coming out of that, there was a heavy focus on enterprise. I was working closely with the East Sussex Careers service at the time and helped to write some enterprise careers guidance. This coincided with another initiative setting up a “one-stop-shop link” between education and business, which was very much the birth of a national network of Education Business Partnerships. This predominantly looked at secondary age children but with some primary and post-16 too. I eventually became involved full time in the East Sussex EBP, which included a local group in Eastbourne and at the time delivered work experience for schools.

“This all continued very successfully with a network of over 200 EBPs across the country until around 2006-2008 when a change in government thinking meant the funding was cancelled virtually overnight. This led to the creation of the Careers and Enterprise Company, which continues to operate the East Sussex Careers Hub. This does a lot of great work and is responsible for work experience and careers development in schools.

“Eastbourne is now the only EBP remaining in the whole of Sussex and the only one now between Portsmouth/Southampton and East Kent. Nationally, there are only around 50-60 EBPs left - which is a lot to do with funding. Eastbourne EBP has always worked very closely with the Borough Council and Chamber of Commerce. The EBP takes a different approach, partially because of my business background, where we don’t rely on handouts and grants - we charge an affordable amount for schools and businesses to take part and sponsor events in order to maintain our programme of activities and take donations or services in kind.

“Yes, we’ve had 21 years of EYR, but equally we’ve had 28 years of Eastbourne In-Bloom and similarly Young Engineers. It’s all about sustainability. I want the younger brothers and sisters of students involved in our activities to know that they too will get a chance to do those things when they reach a certain age - be it EYR, the Pantomime Technology Challenge, or the BIG Futures Show. It’s all about providing contextual learning to students, memories, and something to put on the CV.

“We’re really proud of the work we deliver. It’s been a long history and long may it continue.”

The partnership has a great timeline of events, including the big one - The BIG Futures Show. What will be some of the highlights on 26th April 2022?

Tim: “The highlight of next year’s show will be that it’s the first face-to-face careers event for this generation of young people. It’s a huge flagship event for the Eastbourne EBP and we believe in this face-to-face engagement. We have the highest pre-bookings from schools to date and it’s great to get these students talking to businesses.

“It’s a visit with a purpose - it’s not about coming home with loads of glossy brochures, but about students having interactive experiences, gaining memories and the opportunity to speak to businesses and colleges.

“We intend to have a bigger jobseekers corner this year, kindly sponsored by Recruitment South East, which will be promoting many vacancies - be it work experience, apprenticeships, traineeships and full and part-time vacancies. The event is open to the public so any jobseekers can attend.”

Faiza: “A few years ago, a lady in her thirties attended the show to look for work and has now been working with me at Carrot Events for a couple of years!”

“It’s been heart-wrenching for us to have to stop the last two events in 2020 and 2021. It’s an integral part of schools and careers education. When I look around at other employment shows around Sussex, there is nothing like The BIG Futures Show. We’re seeing numbers attending from schools in April 2022 growing, and to get schools to confirm this early is superb. The BIG Futures Show has a big future and will continue to grow over the next few years as we address the dire need for tech recruitment in Eastbourne.”

Have you seen a change in what schools and their students are looking for when it comes to developing employability skills?

Tim: “I think it has evolved. In recent years, with education so overstretched, ongoing dialogue between educational establishments and businesses has been around how the education system doesn’t quite hit the mark for employers. Businesses were saying that university graduates were coming to them with degree-level qualifications, but very little work experience or appreciation of the world of work - this has led to graduate-level apprenticeships.

“Students need a much greater appreciation of the skills required. Years ago, part-time Saturday jobs were more available than they are now, so we need to increase that level of engagement.

“As a small organisation, we don’t have the capacity or resources to help every single student individually, but our events mean we can reach larger groups of students. Some of our smaller events target specific interest groups, such as engineering, which enables those students to have some practical experience alongside local professionals.”

Have you seen a shift in the career interests of students in recent years?

Tim: “Digital is high up there, as are social media and influencer experiences. It’s not all about the stereotypical careers - although technology is reaching some of those areas too, such as car mechanics and hairdressing. There’s a lot of interest in social media, coding, and games development, but still a lot of interest in uniformed services - East Sussex Fire and Rescue, for example, are seeing an increase in female firefighters.

“Construction, architecture, surveying, hospitality and catering are all traditional things that still attract some interest. But as an EBP, we are still lacking in the technical and digital elements and could do with some help in developing a challenge event within primary and secondary schools in the coming years.”

How easy do you find it to engage with local businesses and how can our Chalk community both support and mutually benefit from the events you organise?

Tim: “It’s about patience and perseverance. There has always been a core of businesses that support us and understand the reason why this is important. More than 250 businesses have regularly supported us through thick and thin in Eastbourne. I have made many acquaintances and friendships over the years and have worked closely with the Chamber of Commerce, FSB, local authorities and the County Council. This network and loyal support from so many people have kept the EBP going. We hope we’re contributing back too by promoting their businesses, products, and future employees - it’s a two-way street with benefits for businesses too.”

“Drop me an email: tim@eastbourneEBP.org.uk, have a look at eastbourneebp.org.uk, the BIG Futures Show, and listen back to Eastbourne Youth Radio. We are genuinely wanting to expand the range of initiatives we run, but we need help to do so.”

ONE LAST THING

Funding support for businesses

If you're looking to expand or relocate your business in East Sussex and need funding, Locate East Sussex can help with business loans and grants for start-ups and SMEs. They help to deliver the East Sussex Invest economics programme on behalf of the County Council.

Locate East Sussex can also provide support and advice on how to progress your business goals, so if you're looking for guidance, get in touch with them.

Find out more about funding

See you next year! 👋

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