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Virtual work placement ideas go global

Posted: 11 May 2021

Business students at West Nottinghamshire College have taken part in the country’s first 5G business challenge, with the results showcased at a recent global industry event.

Cerise Yates, Ben Thorpe and Claydon Groom from the winning group with their certificates
Cerise Yates, Ben Thorpe and Claydon Groom from the winning group with their certificates

Despite students not being able to attend work placement venues in person due to Covid-19, the work placement team set about arranging meaningful and skill-stretching exercises for learners to benefit from.

Nick Mellors from local business Innovation Nottinghamshire, whose objectives are to help create new careers and business opportunities in the county, set Level 1, 2 and 3 business studies learners with a number of project briefs to undertake in groups, designed to hone their team-working, marketing and presentation skills, based on the subject of 5G technologies being rolled out into local businesses and schools.

This is the second time Nick has delivered 5G technology concept work to students at West Nottinghamshire College. He also worked with the computer science curriculum to seek their innovative ideas of how 5G might be used to protect and promote treasured areas of natural beauty like Sherwood Forest in association with the county’s 5G Connected Forest project.

The groups had three days to work collaboratively on their research and presentations, looking at the many aspects of what 5G technology will bring to both businesses and the public, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, robotics and automation and to present how businesses could capitalise on new technology within their sector, attract customers to use their technologies and ensure they’re not left behind.

As well as presenting their ideas to Nick, students were required to complete a reflective work placement diary which detailed how they reached their decision, listed what they felt would work well and areas for improvement.

Throughout the students’ project planning they also enjoyed some online training from Gogglebox star Baasit Siddiqui. Baasit is also founder of Siddiqui Education, which offers workshops to schools and colleges in the UK. He produced a video for students to look into his career journey and taught them how to create podcasts, which helped the learners with their project presentation skills.

The winning idea came from Cerise Yates, Claydon Groom and Ben Thorpe for their ‘Learning About 5G’ project idea, a concept aimed at young people in schools to teach them about the pros and cons of the technology and the many areas it can be used in.

Level 1 Business Studies Claydon, 20, said: “I wanted to teach the younger generation how technology in 5G works. Young people will end up being employed in businesses using this technology so I thought about inventing a VR game which would simulate a world of work using 5G so that they could get a valuable insight before starting work.”

The college’s employability and progression manager Maxine Buttery said: “The arrival of 5G technology is going to mean great change for businesses. The students came up with some really innovative and diverse projects to show how industries can use this to their advantage.

“Their research provided really good labour market information and it was refreshing to see young people’s perspectives on this emerging new technology. It was wonderful to collaborate with Nick and allow the students to present their ideas to him in a professional manner and I was delighted to hear that some of the learners’ work may be used within live projects in the future.”

Director of ISPB Nick Mellors said: “The technologies that 5G supports like augmented and virtual reality, the Internet of Things and haptics are going to change every type of business in every sector from hairdressing to engineering and from marketing to production. Today’s business studies students will be the managers of tomorrow so the opportunity to be the first in the country to start looking at how this could happen is a great boost for Mansfield.

“Based on the pioneering work at West Notts College we were invited to share the story at an global 5G industry event last month and working with Nottinghamshire’s new Digital Innovation Centre in Worksop to look at how these challenge projects can be delivered across the county, giving all our students and young people the best chance to be at the forefront of these changes.”

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