13 April 2017

What a week! On holiday with my family yesterday, I got the call from my team that I’d been waiting for. It’s been a decade in the making but it is finally happening.

After years of listening to thousands of business leaders who are becoming increasingly concerned and frustrated with the “skills gap” and the lack of work-ready kids coming from schools and universities, we decided to do our level best to do something about it.

Just over 10 years ago, we began this adventure with a young man called Aaron. A friend and teacher in a local Manchester school. We worked with him to influence and shape the curriculum. It was a tiny partnership at the time, the size of an acorn, but one with similar potential now that is truly gathering momentum beyond our wildest dreams. We worked on the National IT Diploma and helped to shape the curriculum to helped kids develop skills they would need in the future.

Back then, it was unheard of for a business to work so closely with schools but the results of our early efforts are evident today at UKFast. A few of the youngsters who came in for work experience kept in touch on Facebook and now are now employed as fully fledged UKFast tech team-mates. Apprentices quickly grow into invaluable members of the team who intern manage and nuture others.

It is precisely this success that spurs us on at every step. And, with every step, we move further and further towards bridging the skills gap that could quickly turn into a skills crisis in years to come.

Nowadays we now work with a large number of schools and a total of 57,000 students across the North West. We run courses for teachers, coding classes and Code Clubs for kids, school trips, work placements, access to technology; the list is endless. But we always felt we can do more.

With that in mind we approached the government and one of our key partners, the Dean Trust to take this to a whole new level.

And today it’s official; we have the go-ahead from the government to build and run our first school. The UKFast Dean Trust High School. In partnership with the extraordinary team at the Dean Trust, this school is set to be a place where we are able to deliver the best education possible in the UK. Equipping young people with the skills they need to thrive in an increasingly digital workplace, and giving all children the opportunity to have a career in technology and beyond.

It is one of the proudest achievements of my career.

There is a lot more to this story, and more will be revealed soon, but right now, I just want to say a huge thank you to all the team at UKFast and the Dean Trust who have made this possible.

 

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