On Tuesday, some of the UK’s leading digital experts headed back to school to inspire the future talent of the industry, and this year Econsultancy joined them.

The 13th of November saw the return of BIMA’s Digital Day, an annual event inviting brands such as Vodafone, the BBC and The Football Association to invent challenges that schools have to overcome with help from a partnered agency.

Natalie Gross, BIMA Co-President, explains the thinking behind Digital Day: “Young people continue to miss out on opportunities to have progressive, lucrative careers in the digital and technology sector, the fastest growing industry in Britain. This is because of an inadequate curriculum and a lack of awareness for the opportunities that are available.

“This lack of skills and lack of awareness is a lethal combination that will serve to stifle the growth of the British economy, at a time when we most need growth and confidence.”

She is right, with research showing that only 41.5% of students have any knowledge of the potential for a career in the digital industry.

“We can change this trajectory. BIMA Digital Day is just one brilliant example of how a real difference can be made.” This is exactly what Econsultancy – together with BIMA, Park Academy and digital experts from three major brands – set out to do.

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Jumping in an Uber at six in the morning, I started the long journey in to Uxbridge to team up with Simon Quy, Head of Media at Park Academy, to help the kids with their challenges.

As already mentioned, this year’s challenge partners were Vodafone, the BBC and The FA. The BBC asked students for a big idea to promote its new digital-only series Earthlings; The FA wanted an innovative idea to increase young girls’ engagement with football and boost viewership of the Lioness’ upcoming FIFA World Cup games; and Vodafone challenged the students to devise a VR or AR solution to change how we shop on the High Street.

On arrival I was introduced to the young people taking part, a group largely made up of film and business studies students.

After a quick briefing and overview of the challenges, we got started. There were some great ideas using digital mirrors, social media influencers, and a game to rival Pokémon Go!

As the students were putting the final touches to their ideas, I spoke to Simon Quy, who said, “This event has really motivated and inspired Park Academy students to learn new skills and further develop their horizons. They are learning about the real world of work and will have further opportunities to follow this success during work experience”.

This was great to hear – and listening to the children “OMG”ing and stating it is the hardest they have ever worked in school showed by itself what a worthwhile undertaking Digital Day is.

With the ideas and strategies in place, the big pitches came next, with a couple of the kids putting established industry professionals to shame with their flair and enthusiasm.

Once the presentations were finished I manged to speak to one of the students, who said:

“I really enjoyed working in our production team and meeting the tight time-frame of the creative brief we were given. Pitching our new ideas in the final presentation was a bit nerve-wracking, but these are the sorts of skills we need to practise for university and future careers.”

This was brilliant to hear, and something that Econsultancy and I were extremely proud to have played a part in. I hope we have an update of this post in January announcing Park Academy as one of the winners; if not this year, we will definitely be trying to make it happen next year.

If you would like to be involved in Digital Day next year, you can sign up here: https://www.bimadday.org.uk/

Learn more

Put your own digital skills to the test with Econsultancy’s online Digital Skills Assessment