This Wednesday saw BIMA hold a day that brought nearly 70 digital agencies from across the UK together with over 1,800 students, as well as one Drum reporter to highlight the skills and work of the digital industry. The BIMA D Day challenge was devised to address the digital skills gap in the UK, the initiative paired schools with local agencies to educate the students about digital careers through hands on advice.
At present, 1.5 million people are employed in creative industries or in creative roles in other industries accounting for 5.1 per cent of UK employment. Employment in digital has also grown at twice the rate of the whole economy, yet digital skills are often overlooked in the classroom.
The Drum was lucky enough to join Govan High and their partner agency, Spider Online, for the day to experience BIMA D Day first-hand. The day started with an introduction video from BIMA and videos featuring the younger staff employed in digital across the UK before John Campbell MD of Spider Online addressed the class. In his presentation John explained that as much as digital is fun sometimes “you have to put the games machines and the beanbags down and work really hard” but if you have a real passion for digital it’s an industry “you can fly” in very early on, adding “honestly, it’s not Bull S – digital is making money right now and this is the worst recession since the 20s.”After John had spoken the real crux of the day got underway as the pupils began work on their BIMA D Day challenge. There were six challenges in total – design a mobile app, an innovative digital solution, a social media campaign, web coding, or multimedia content – Govan High picked the social media challenge which saw them devise a social media campaign for a new café.
As The Drum was live blogging the event, we asked the pupils to join us and Tweet using the hashtag #BIMADDay and it was impressive to see the roles reverse as the pupils taught computing teacher Mr Mullen how to Tweet. And it seemed Mr Mullen wasn’t the only one learning new digital skills as Abi Ellis from Lbi told us one of the pupils at its partner school, Woodside High, had “just explained the virtues of passbook iOS6 to me in great detail, [he’s the] best coder in the school, so they tell me. Seems like I'm learning a thing or two today.” According to our blog, pupils throughout the UK were impressing agency staff with their skills as Phil Heywood of Redweb who was at Avonbourne College commented: “My big revelation for #BIMADDay was going to be user centred design. Turns out the students at #AvonbourneCollege already knew! #smartkids”Kristal Ireland, Enjoy Digital’s strategy director was also impressed by the pupils of her partner school, David Young Community Academy, in her D Day reaction piece for The Drum she wrote: “What was most impressive was the level of digital skillz (I’ve been told z is the cool thing now) that some of the pupils had. One 16 year old in our group had a great understanding of HTML, CSS and could use Photoshop. He came up with a very innovative iPhone App, but what was the most impressive was how excited he was about how to market the app and importantly monitize it. A great commercial head for someone of his age!”
The afternoon saw a flutter of activity across the schools and colleges as everyone powered through to complete their challenges. Watching the pupils of Govan High discussing how to make the most of social media promotions and how to handle Twitter complaints showed just how at ease they are with the digital world. Kristal Ireland commented on this in her piece too: “A standout quote of the day came from one of the Multimedia teachers, who said, ‘the students don’t understand the concept of “digital” it’s just how their lives have always been’.”
With the students hard at work, The Drum spoke to the teachers at Govan High who said there was a real passion for digital amongst their pupils, but their knowledge of social media didn’t come from the school, “it’s in their lives, they use it every day, we can’t get access to the likes of Twitter in class but they all have it on their phones, that’s how they know what to do,” explained business management teacher, Sonja Kerr. Codegent co-founder David Hart, also made a similar comment on The Drum live blog: “Scary and heartening that digital comes so naturally to teenagers who have grown up with it #codegent #thebritschool #bimadday”
A logo designed for one of the apps
As the day drew to a close the comments on The Drum’s live blog were resoundingly positive from pupils, teachers and agencies alike, Christian Milburn who spent the day with Hermitage Academy Tweeted: “Brill day, really enjoyed it. Big thanks to all who made it happen. Sign me up for the next one”ICT/Computing teacher, Jamie Chadwick from Alderley Edge School for Girls who were paired with CTI Digital, said on The Drum’s live blog: “Just finished at #bimadday top day, great ideas flowing, kids loved it and learnt a lot. Thanks BIMA.”E3 added: “Coming to the end of a really productive day - amazing & inspiring work from students - they should set up a digital agency! #bimadday” With digital growing on an almost daily basis, it’s clear to see more initiatives like this are needed to get kids into a thriving industry, in his presentation to Govan High, John Campbell said: “Forget colleges and uni’s its school level you need to start,” a sentiment with which The Drum whole heartedly agrees.