Wed, 06 Nov 2019

The West Midlands might be one of the fastest growing regions in the country, but it still suffers from some of the highest levels of youth unemployment in the UK – and we’re passionate about changing this statistic.

That’s why we’ve partnered with several organisations across the county – including our longstanding sponsorship of Dallaglio RugbyWorks, a long-term programme to help teenagers excluded from mainstream education remain in sustained education, employment and training. We also commit to providing enticing entry-level opportunities for young people in the area, including apprenticeships and graduate positions.

And now our recent project with local social enterprise Digital Innov8ors has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Innovation and Enterprise Award at this year’s Solihull BID Excellence Awards.

Throughout the summer, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Digital INnov8ors and Solihull College & University Centre collaborated to deliver a programme to help 16-19 year olds Centre to develop the skills they need to boost their chances of employment.

The college students that Digital INnov8ors work in association with are typically from inner-city Birmingham and Solihull and from a variety of different backgrounds. Often, they have failed GCSE Maths and English or are at risk of falling out of the education system. One thing that unites this entire age group, no matter their education, is their innate digital skills.

This generation has grown up surrounded by technology and has the natural ability to bring digital skills to the workplace that companies are yet to have seen. The programme allows Digital INnov8ors to harness these vital skills and use them to help youngsters on the programme build towards a rewarding career.

As part of their collaboration with BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Digital INnov8ors sent a group of Solihull College & University Centre students to the BNP Paribas Personal Finance offices in Solihull for two days a week. The group was set two research tasks during their placement: one based around how the company can be more attractive to millennials and Gen Z, and the other on what they think the ‘workplace of the future’ might look like.

The students looked at elements like the design of the offices, how visible the company is to the local area, how aware young people are of the company, as well as what different roles were available within the company. Once they had researched this information, the students reported their findings back to BNP Paribas Personal Finance and Digital INnov8ors, with the best ideas being incorporated by the company.

Mick Westman, founder at Digital Innov8rs, said: “I’m thrilled that BNP Paribas Personal Finance reached out and wanted to work with us – it has been an incredible challenge to deliver this programme and their work has helped us to ensure its success. I’d like to thank everyone within the company, as well as Solihull College & University Centre for their incredible support and passion.”

Claire Moore, director of operations at BNP Paribas Personal Finance, said: “We’re very happy to welcome Digital INnov8ors into our company. Not only did we help develop young people by giving them experience and skills for the future, we also learned a lot ourselves as a company. The suggestions the students have made have been taken on board and will help us to ensure that we remain an attractive place for young people to work.”