Inspiring the next generation of innovators and leaders through real life experience

By Oliver Peppiatt

Our Springboard work experience programme gives disadvantaged students the opportunity to develop valuable skills to ‘springboard’ their careers by devising ingenious solutions to the world’s toughest challenges.

Through summer 2021, our fourth UK and second US programmes challenged more than 60 'Springboarders' to accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the 17 global targets to promote peace and prosperity while protecting our environment.

The students took briefs on real challenges, including sanitation, quality education and poverty, from the likes of the UN, Microsoft and World Business Consortium. This gave them experience of genuine business interactions, and inspired their ingenuity as they understood how the work they were doing could impact real lives.

To ensure that inspiration translated into useful experience as the students explored and refined their ideas, they had the support of PA experts. Our strategists, innovators, designers, consultants, digital experts, scientists, engineers and technologists helped them build consulting skills, develop business cases and create professional presentations.

So, how did the students get on?

Working in teams, the students have come up with ingenious, technology-led solutions.

In the UK, these included a business accelerator to tackle unemployment in Iraq, a ceramic water filtration device for deprived areas, and frameworks to shape policy that will bring us closer to carbon neutrality.

And in the US, ideas included creating and distributing more nutrient- and protein-packed infant formulas to decrease child mortality, developing an incentivised substance abuse reduction programme, and offering an innovative ‘earn-to-learn’ programme to minimise primary school non-completions.

This is a practical and immersive work experience programme where the ‘Springboarders’ have the support and freedom to fully explore their ideas before they present back to their ‘clients’. The ingenuity of young people is remarkable, so we give it a place to thrive.

And the students find this experience uniquely valuable:

“What an amazing week. I cannot thank you enough for this wonderful opportunity. This week I’ve had the experience of working with my client (Microsoft) on issues I am truly passionate about. I’ve gained insight into the professional world and gained skills I will carry throughout my life.”

“My biggest takeaway so far is how important it is to listen. We can talk all day about our ideas but by spending just 15 minutes listening to our client we learnt so much!”

“I love how friendly and creative everyone is. I also enjoyed how fun and engaging the sessions were because I would always look forward to the next day.”

We’d like to thank everyone who volunteered their time and expertise to support the 2021 PA Springboard programme, including people from the Royal Navy, Planning Inspectorate, Microsoft, The Guardian Foundation, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, Citizen Project, Patchwork Health, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and United Nations Industrial Development Organization in the UK, and Google Cloud, Mercer Advisors and SCL Health in the US.

If you’d like to explore how your organisation could support our 2022 Springboard programme, use the details below to get in touch.

About the authors

Oliver Peppiatt PA public sector expert Olly supports local authorities to transform their care technology offer to deliver the best possible outcomes for citizens

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