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Sheffield Ambition

November 29, 2017

Grant Thornton hosted the second Sheffield Ambition event:  “A Vibrant Sheffield Embracing A Changing World” at the Adelphi Room in the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. This room is amazing – it is at the top of the Theatre looking out over the square containing the Winter Gardens and towards the Sheffield Hallam University campus. The assembled group was also amazing – 30 highly ambitious, enthusiastic and passionate people in the room ready to look at the future of the world and the opportunity Sheffield has to play a major part.

As Paul Houghton, Grant Thornton Partner leading the event, said in his invitation: the aim was to have an inspiring and thought provoking evening: so people came ready to collaborate, to be creative and to disrupt the status quo in our thinking. Some of us from SAMI – Dr Wendy Schultz, Huw Williams and Gill Ringland – helped to structure the discussion, using a staged approach to Three Horizons split over the several courses of an excellent dinner.

The discussion ranged widely but one theme emerged strongly as a basis for a potential new initiative – skills and an aspiration gap. One thought was that, as in other parts of the UK, in Sheffield, new jobs were going to incomers – sometimes graduates from the two Universities in Sheffield, or elsewhere.

The question was how to reach out to parents and children in Sheffield, to give them images of innovation, creativity, new jobs and new ways of working?

A role model which we discussed was the activity led by Ruth Amos of “Kids Invent Stuff” This a You Tube channel which sets monthly design challenges for kids (age 5-11) to submit their ideas for solving a problem or create a gadget or robot, and then making it on camera. They launch a new video every week and get video or picture submissions through www.kidsinventstuff.com:

Kids Invent Stuff web page

One issue that concerns Ruth is getting girls to think about inventing stuff. She seems to have an approach that appeals to girls, who are ready to submit their ideas, often encouraged by their parents. As she says, she tries not to use the term engineer as it is not very inspiring – preferring to talk about inventor. And she emphasises the importance of parents’ support in getting girls to think about careers in Science, technology, engineering and manufacturing, which have historically been male dominated: and the increasing role of social media in breaking down stereotypes.

The train of ideas about Sheffield Ambition was – how could companies, schools and universities, local government, parents and children, build on what is already happening, to develop Sheffield’s ambition? The need is to think more broadly and taking into account some of the changes which will overtake us as technology continues to impact our lives: many of the people in the Adelphi Room had children or grand-children who will still be alive in 2100. What can we do to prepare them?

As Ambition Sheffield takes shape – watch this space!

#vibranteconomy  #vibrantSheffield

Written by Gill Ringland, SAMI Fellow Emeritus.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

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