Students learn valuable life skills to give them the edge in the workplace

March 12th, 2019

Students at Hull’s Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) have taken part in a workshop to learn more about themselves and how to interact with others, supporting them to progress even further in the world of work.

The initiative forms part of the school’s strategy to develop employability skills and teach Fundamental British Values. The workshop explored two Fundamental British Values – Mutual Respect and Tolerance, and The Rule of Law. 

It also created the opportunity for students to learn more about themselves and how they interact with others, supporting them to progress even further in the world of work.

The interactive Equality and Diversity Workshop was led by RB, the world’s leading consumer health and hygiene company and one of the employer-led school’s Founding Partners.

Year 12 students were split into groups of between 20 and 25 and attended one of three sessions focused on self-awareness and understanding your own identity, as well as equality, diversity and unconscious bias.

Interactive activities were teamed with practical and theory-based exercises to help the students understand, recognise, appreciate and make the best of people’s differences; explore and discover more about themselves and their perceptions; and learn how to adapt their behaviour to interact more effectively with others.

They were asked what they perceived equality and diversity to be and how it can include gender, age, ethnicity and many other elements, encouraging them to promote and accept differences while treating everyone fairly and equally.

Pictured from left: Sam Caley (joint head of sixth form, year 12), Rachael Starkey (RB’s Human Resources Manager UK Supply, Hull R&D), Zac Flinn (year 12 student), Kacper Zydron (year 12 student), Rob MacNaught (HR Business Partner at RB) and Kathy Robson ((joint head of sixth form, year 12).

The workshop was led by Rachael Starkey, RB’s Human Resources Manager UK Supply, Hull R&D, and Rob MacNaught, HR Business Partner at RB.

Rachael said: “We want the students to understand themselves better and make connections better.

“We can teach them the things they don’t know. But one of the most important things is knowing more about themselves and being able to have positive relationships within the workplace.

“When you start to understand more about forming better relationships with people, the more you will progress within an organisation.”

The students were shown pictures of unnamed famous people and asked what their initial impressions were, or what their “claim to fame” was.

One was Indian Mountaineer Bachendri Pal, who in 1984 became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, while another was James McCrossen, who set up the first male nanny service in London.

The exercise helped the students to understand that first impressions are not always correct and not to judge, or jump to conclusions.

Another exercise illustrated how initial perceptions can potentially cloud your opinion of someone.

A video shown included footage of a man running down a street and students shared their views on whether he was running away or towards someone, and whether he seemed like a man of good character, or whether he had done something wrong.

Unconscious bias was a key focus during the workshop and students learnt how assumptions can lead to misinformed perceptions of others, particularly as a person receives 11 million pieces of information in every moment but can only consciously process 40.

The students were shown part of a TEDx Talk video entitled “What Does My Headscarf Mean to You?” presented by Sudanese-Australian writer, broadcaster, award-winning social advocate and mechanical engineer Yassmin Abdel-Magied, who used the video to encourage people to look beyond their bias.

Yassmin explained she is sometimes judged by how her headscarf is positioned and worn, and asked whether anyone would assume she was a racing car engineer who designed her own racing car and ran her university’s racing team, and also trained as a boxer for five years – all of which is true.

Sam Caley and Kathy Robson, Joint Heads of Sixth Form, also attended the sessions and encouraged the students to share their thoughts and ideas with their peers.

Sam said: “Functioning effectively as a team member or leader is a key employability skill.  To do this, you have to be able to relate effectively to other people. You have to know how you tick and how others tick. 

“You also have to be aware of any unconscious biases you may have, so that you can adapt your behaviour accordingly. The workshop enabled our students to find out more about themselves, their personalities and what they think.

“They also had to review how they conduct themselves and treat people. By becoming more self-aware and also considering situations from other people’s perspectives, they will become better employees and employers. These key skills link perfectly with the Fundamental British Values Ron Dearing UTC is keen to instil in our students.

“Having attended a professional Equality and Diversity workshop will also add to the students’ CVs as well as enabling them to talk about these key issues from a more informed perspective at interviews. It’s another way in which we give our students the edge.”

In one session coloured cards containing different qualities in a person were placed on the tables and students had to choose which suited them best, handing ones they didn’t believe described them to their peers.

The cards described their personalities, including positives and potential negatives, and the make-up of their character in the “Insights” exercise, which is often used by employers. This enabled the students to understand more about themselves, as well as their own perceptions of themselves.

Student Kacper Zydron, 16, said the workshop gave him a greater insight into core life skills and understanding others.

He said: “The workshop has taught me that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and you should give everyone a chance. It matters how you act and behave towards others.”

Fellow student Zac Flinn, 16, said: “The session was really interactive and I liked the activity with the coloured cards. I identified myself as straightforward, I question everything and have a strong focus for getting things done.

“I learnt more about myself and it was useful. It can all be applied to both education and work.”

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