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Posted by Sarah Brown on 15 Sep '13

Is the route to success finding your passion and following it?

{img_title} I’ve had a great week and it started with an inspirational presentation to some young people who spent some of the summer at work instead of at play.

We have provided some support for work-wise, a social enterprise and they invited us to the celebration of their summer school. The success of the project is based on a collaboration between employers, parents, employers organisations, particularly the Cutlers' Company and the Advanced Manufacturing Park, some schools and work-wise the social enterprise. The premise is treat young people, even as young as 13, like adults with an application, interview, induction, and then a work placement and they will respond building useful skills, confidence and an understanding of a potential career path. During the presentation which was at the Cutlers Hall in Sheffield work-wise explained that many of the young people were scared when they were told to ring the employers to apply for a placement but they appreciated being treated like adults and afterwards felt a real sense of achievement.
These weren’t all angels for example one young person said “I’m a bit of a bad lad, disruptive at school but my granddad (an engineer) told me what engineering was all about and to knuckle down which I did – now I know what I want to do and I’m proud of myself. I’ve found the place where I want to be”.

As the presentation went on I cried a bit. Not only were the employers very positive “the calibre of student is excellent” and keen for the young people to apply for apprenticeships in the future but one actually got an apprenticeship and for many this summer school ignited their passion. One student, just 14 initially moved in with his grandparents in Sheffield in order to take part on work-wise summer camp and has now left home and moved to Sheffield to attend the University Technical College because he has found his passion, others described it as the “best 2 weeks of my life”. One told his parents that he didn't want to go back to school and that he'd rather just go and work for the company placement forever! And asked what he would say to others when he got back to school he said “whilst you’ve been playing on your X Box and watching TV I’ve been getting out there and enjoying myself.”

You couldn’t predict what would be important to some of the young people, for example, one said “I found it useful because it helped me understand what waking up for work in the morning will be like. It’s shown me work isn’t boring.” For another “Getting up was a real task but by the end you realize what you have done has given you a great experience for the future”.One teenager gave up the offer of a holiday to America to go on work-wise summer camp- and would do it all over again.

The summer school changed perceptions on both sides because employers realized that there are capable young people available. The summer school gave some young people a new direction, for example, one young lad thought he wanted a job in mechanical engineering, specifically working on farm machinery so his placement was arranged with Our Cow Molly Ice Cream.
He loved the placement and continued going to the farm after the placement ended. After talking to Eddie at the farm about his own career path he has changed his career plans and wants to attend Agricultural College.

{img_title} As the young people received their certificates they looked proud, Richard Caborn gave an inspirational speech about the future of engineering in Sheffield and it felt that the future looks more secure because there are young people who have found that work can be great, many have gained a passion for engineering and they are now motivated to achieve.  As I looked at them I felt that they will be successful and scarily that success may have started from a summer school – if so we need to make sure more young people get the opportunity and find their passion and get the foundation for success.

For those of us who are older it is equally important to follow our passion – I know when I am following my passion as I lose all track of time – it’s not work it’s fun and it feels like an honour to be able to spend my life doing things that are so great. For me that’s coming up with ideas to help people be more successful and designing tools, reading inspirational books, distilling knowledge so others can benefit from it, finding solutions – what is it for you? Are you doing something that you’d give up a holiday in America for? Surely we can all learn from those teenagers that life is for seizing, it certainly reinspired me.