I have recently completed a pilot program called Next Gen. Next Gen has a number of goals.
- To help small business owners who are stuck and don’t know how to adopt social media in their business at a low cost.
- To give high school students the opportunity to develop employability skills, experience working in a creative and collaborative environment, and earn an income.
I was invited to join the program as the trainer for the business owners and students and to mentor the students in the working environment. The first couple of months of the program we recruited business owners and I worked with them to understand what they could gain from the program.
Then I worked with the students. We explored business terminology, workplace skills and employer expectations.
Upon completion of our training we started WORK. I met with the students for 3 hours each week for ten weeks. We worked on the presence of our clients. Our work included creating social media accounts, designing attractive graphics, writing strategic and conversational social media statuses. We blogged, did some search engine optimisation and tidying up of websites. We created videos and ran Facebook competitions. And we even built two basic websites.
Needless to say, at the end of the ten week period we had some very, very happy business owners.
We had business owners report:
- record attendance at events,
- sales enquiries for products which had never before been located online,
- a foundation for future growth
As someone who believes our education system needs an overhaul, this project was an absolute breath of fresh air for me. I personally saw the students grow in confidence, enjoy their “real life” experience, learn and develop their skills, and an understanding of consulting and meeting client expectations. The students taught me a thing or two too! These kids are talented, clever, and fast to adapt and learn.
Next Gen will continue! We’re in the process of planning Phase 2 Pilot.