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The last of British Summertime

Autumn term round-up:

We hope you had a chance to enjoy the last of British Summertime!

Here at the Red Potato patch, we’ve been doing some fun video and animations for our great clients. Here is a quick round-up of some of the fabulous projects we’ve been involved with recently:

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (Herts LEP) have a made a big commitment to engage young people with Enterprise.  This commitment includes promoting the links between schools and businesses. As part of our work with Herts LEP we’re producing an infographic showing labour market intelligence. The aim of the infographic is to help the Hertfordshire Enterprise Advisors work with schools on careers topics.   If you are interested there are lots of ways you too can become involved via the #Unexpectedmentor campaign

We’ve really enjoyed working with the friendly folk at Wycombe District Council and local businesses such as The Works.  For too long some local business parks and town centres have been neglected. As a result, small things like traffic light phasing, electronic signs not working, overgrown vegetation can quickly make an area look unloved.   So Red Potato staff have been working with local business to get them engaged with improving the space outside their front door.  By working with Business Improvement Districts and business, local authorities can make changes to an area.  The result is that businesses decide to stay and hopefully more businesses become attracted to locate in the area.  Simples!

Beyond Summertime, looking forward to Christmas:

Good luck to all of those people who participated in the #StepIntoHospitality course.  The Red Potato team delivered the course on behalf of Welwyn Hatfield Council.  The course helps local people to apply for jobs in the local hospitality sector and also enables them to sit the exam for Level 2 Food Safety.   Most of all, following the exam, we had another very strong pass rate, which was great to see!  The latest cohort of delegates are now well on their way to securing a job in hospitality and catering.  Well done everyone!   It is going to be a busy time in the run up to Christmas!

Finally, if you’d like to relive summertime; the festivals, food and fun, do have a look at the dogs and their owners enjoying @TheGameFair in Hatfield during July!

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Perseverance key to success for the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentices

Perseverance central to success

Congratulations to all the teams in the 2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.   This is the fourth year Red Potato have worked with Welwyn Hatfield Council to deliver the Challenge.  Each year there seems to be some common element to the teams; this year it was perseverance.

The Challenge involves groups of young people working together with local businesses and charities over approximately six months.   Each year the groups of young people go through a process of forming and developing as a team.  This year the process of “form, reform, split up, make up” happened again.  What was different though was the perseverance shown by team members. Why is that important? Well, the ability to keep going with the Challenge despite changes to the team, was an important factor in the teams that were succcessful. The ability to keep going, to persevere despite the set backs is important. And crucially that grit and determination to make things work came through, in the team presentations. So, congratulations to all the teams for their achievements! Perseverance is a key quality for potential entrepreneurs. Based upon the 2017/18 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge it looks like the teams have learnt a lot about perseverance, lessons that will help them in their future careers.

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Three tips for engaging young people with your organisation

So here’s the thing, you need to communicate with young people about something important, but not urgent.   How do you do it?

Here are three quick tips we have learnt from recent work with school and college students.

  1. Test your ideas:

    In any campaign you would test your ideas with your target market. Young people are not an homogeneous market that can be easily defined.  By asking young people what they think of your ideas, you will get very useful feedback and it will help make your engagement more pertinent and so more likely to be successful.  At a recent event we had a great suggestion that the large screen could have a rolling display of social media posts, instead of a video no one could hear!

  2. Create a buzz before the event:

    The best way to do is to work with local schools or colleges so that the students are interested in your “message” prior to the event. Clearly this is only appropriate where you are working on a public service/community interest campaign.  For example recently we worked on launching the #HealthforTeens website.   Before the event we spent lots of time discussing the website themes with schools, so that school students knew more about what was involved and could influence the message, in this case about how to stay healthy!

  3. You need to persevere:

    Engagement with young people is not a one off, but needs to be part of a plan. Young people are besieged by messages, and your message is quickly forgotten. To make an impact you need to provide regular useful information that is relevant and speaks to young people.   We worked with schools and young people, after the #FutureHeroes Careers Expo to reinforce the messages, because life moves on!  Your event maybe important to you, but it will be vying for attention, with all the other things going on;   your event is only part of your campaign.  To ensure you get your message across, you need to plan, persevere and persist with the campaign.

And finally…

Young people are interested in what you have to say, but you need to be open, approachable and willing to change. The campaign will be stronger, more successful and certainly more fun!

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School students learn about warehousing from Ocado

School students find out about cool opportunities in warehousing and distribution

 

Wow that was really cool!  Walking through the fridge room at the Ocado warehouse felt like stepping out into the Arctic wilderness – except we were surrounded by ice cream packs!  It was another surprise, on a visit that took a ice axe to our assumptions about warehousing and distribution.

We are very grateful to Ocado for agreeing to host a group of young people at their warehouse and fulfilment centre. The visit by the students from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, was the culmination of several weeks preparation work.  All of the school students were hugely impressed by this technology driven business.

Why visit a warehouse?

Red Potato works closely with many schools in Hertfordshire.  Also because of our work as an Enterprise Adviser we knew that many businesses, like Ocado are really keen to welcome young people into their business.  So we were really happy to connect the school students with the Ocado team.

So what is the big deal about the “fridge room“? Well, going into the freezer room was a challenge laid down by our Ocado guide as he showed us around the warehouse and fulfilment centre.   We were with a group of 16 & 17 year old school students who readily accepted the challenge.  It has to be said that the adults were less keen!  The challenge of walking into a freezer to voluntarily get extremely cold – even if you are surrounded by ice cream, didn’t sound good.  We all did it of course.  But, walking into the fridge room at -18 degrees was an experience that most people won’t repeat in a hurry!

The Future

The scale, pace and sophistication of the warehouse surprised everyone.  We were also given a privileged view of the software behind the operation, which was also very interesting.  Technology is driving major changes in warehousing and distribution.  It would be great to think that this visit has influencing future career choices.  Will some of the students who visited Ocado, one day be designing the next generation of warehousing and distribution companies?  We sincerely hope so.  But, predicting what is going to happen in this sector is fraught.  What we can say is that our shopping habits will change.  As our shopping habits change, so the warehousing and distribution sector will also change as it attempts to keep up with us as consumers.  We feel very lucky to have had a glimpse at some of the exciting developments at Ocado and how this company is planning for the future.

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Three ideas to bring creativity into the business

Business owners often look for ways they can stand out from the crowd, here are three ideas that will bring creativity into the business.

 

Red Potato are involved in several projects that are connecting businesses with schools.  Most importantly, these projects are also bringing creativity to businesses.

Here are three ideas that will bring creativity into your business:

  1. Participate in Careers Fairs

    Careers Fairs are run by local schools and Colleges.  From the school’s point of view the aim is for employers to meet with student that could become interns or full time employees.   For the employer, it is a great opportunity to promote the different opportunities available in the business.  The Careers Fair can also raise awareness.   Asking the question “What do you think this business does?” is a good way to engage young people at Careers Fairs.  Be prepared for some “off-beat” responses though…businesses are often surprised by the answers they get to this question!

  2. Become trained as a mentor, mentor young people

    Red Potato are pleased to support the Careers & Enterprise Company Enterprise Advisor programme.  There are many different initiatives available to help employers train to become a mentor. In many organisations mentoring is central to employee development.  Teachers in schools and colleges are under time huge pressures. It is not realistic to expect that teachers will have the time to be able mentor to all of their students. Yet business leaders have unique experiences and insights that they can contribute.  It is a bewildering world when you are 16, with many different choices.   A trained business mentor could help young people navigate through the myriad career choices.

  3. Offer work experience

    Work experience is not an easy option for businesses.  Therefore an effective work experience placement requires preparation and time from the business.  Most relevant to this, was a statement by a Welwyn Hatfield (business mentor) Dragon.  The Dragon said they had been inspired by the Dragons Apprentice Challenge to offer structured work experience, because it was good for their business and great for the community the business serves.

 

So what has all this to do with business creativity?  As a result of these three ideas, employers find that young people have a habit of questioning business practice.  Most of all businesses soon see that they have to think more creatively, in order to keep up with the challenges of the market.