On Wednesday 8th October 2014, the Ricemedia team took part in BIMA Digital Day, and set out to engage the local community in the digital industry.

D-Day (for short) is a nationwide event that links digital professionals and creatives, with young people aged 13 – 17 years. It gives us a chance to show the future leaders in our local area what they can achieve with a career in digital; how varied and versatile the industry is, and get them excited about how they can play their part as the next generation. So signed up, prepared for anything and everything, we set off to Holte School, Birmingham to share all our excitement and knowledge with the Year 9s.

Hosted by Mrs Sandhu, we were made welcome by all the staff and students the second we walked through the door.  After the faculty briefing, and a sneaky peak into their staff room, we were introduced to our classroom for the day.

Paul Rice

Paul Rice in the classroom at Holte School, Birmingham

Enter the teenagers…

Buoyant, energetic, smart.  30 of them!  A big deep breath, and off we went.  Paul, founder of Ricemedia, shared his career path, and why digital is such a great industry.  Not afraid to ask questions straight away, we had a fantastic interactive session about the various disciplines,  and of course, some in depth discussion into ‘how much do you get to earn sir?’.  Savvy.

Not perturbed by a little (unexpected) fire drill, we got straight onto the challenges.  In teams of 4-6, the class was set  to work on building their own social network platform or app.

The thirst for information was amazing – and the ideas flying around the room were brilliant!   The classroom was all fired up about what they could achieve; and so were we.  Helping the groups brainstorm, direct their ideas into a concept, support on branding and consider what they wanted to stand for, was hugely rewarding.

We absorbed as much knowledge as we imparted.  A completely different perspective, with no concept of practical restraints, was so refreshing.

We broke for lunch, and yes – we had a school dinner.  I can honestly say, it was superb, and it was finished off with a chocolate hedgehog; school day nostalgia at its best!

Chocolate hedgehog

Fed and watered, it was time for round two!  The teams swapped over activity and dove straight into their next challenge.  Competition was bubbling through the room at this point – every team wanted to win.

With lots of visits by curious (fellow) teachers, and time running out, we were all busy supporting the teams on completing their entries – the chance to win a national award was at stake!

Calling TIME at 3pm, the students (and us at Ricemedia) took a second deep breath – and we couldn’t believe how the day had flown by.

Inside the classroom at the BIMA Digital Day

All the groups talked through what their ideas were and why they would improve the current social terrain or app world, and what they had personally learned or taken from the day.

According to BIMA, and the Government, there is a significant skills shortage pending for the digital industry,  and approximately ¼ of those roles are suited to younger people.  Ricemedia take talent pipeline really seriously – it directly affects us, and our future in the UK to maintain status as a world leader in digital.

We are particularly passionate about driving this agenda in the West Midlands.  Birmingham is a brilliant digital hub, but future success depends on the next generation.  However, if the students of Holte School are the future for Birmingham, in digital agencies and beyond, it’s going to be a very exciting place to be in the next few years!

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