Skills 30:30, a free workshop run by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) that brings together business owners and students, would have reached 2,000 participants this June.

FSB Kent Skills Lead, Paul Andrews, says, “Plans were in place to celebrate and thank 2,000 businesses and students who have got together to share information and careers advice at Skills 30:30. Due to COVID-19 we have had to cancel three workshops. We still want to say a really big thank you to all the people who have taken part so far and volunteered their time.”

Kent schools who have participated include The Leigh Academy, Hayesbrook School, Hartsdown Academy, Hugh Christie School, Longfield Academy, St George’s Foundation School, Wilmington Academy and The Wye Academy.

Skills 30:30 is a free, two hour session held in a school for students. The first hour consists of a workshop for 30 students about the world of work, while 30 businesses network in a nearby classroom. In the second hour, both groups get together for facilitated speed-networking.

Steven Reader, Assistant Principal at Hayesbrook School, Tonbridge, said “We have held two Skills 30:30 events with FSB. Approximately 60 of our pupils enjoyed highly inspiring talks from keynote speakers on how to make that first break into the world of work. For many of our students, it’s quite daunting and an often unexpected leap from the comfort of the classroom to the interview panel, so advice on helping students develop the right mindset for the job market is hugely beneficial.”

Steven added, “The networking session is an equally powerful experience with students and businesses connecting to share big ideas and advice. The Skills 30:30 event was voted as the most popular careers event held at the Hayesbrook School. We can’t wait for the next opportunity to open our doors to more local businesses.”

Participants have included Cllr Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council; FSB National Chair Mike Cherry OBE and Lord Harris as well as individuals from the BBC, LinkedIn and Kent Police. The speed networking has enabled nearly 1,000 students to talk directly to people from a range of sectors from photography to fashion; PR, law, engineering and finance.

A future workforce

Paul Andrews added, “We want to keep our strong links with schools and colleges across Kent, despite the lockdown, and are keen to restart the events as soon as is safe and possible. As small businesses emerge from lockdown, many will need new staff with enthusiasm and energy and 1,500 young people in Kent and Medway will need work experience and jobs.”

FSB works with a range of local and national organisations on these workshops. Thanks go to the Careers and Enterprise Company; Kent Supported Employment and Ralph Meyers from LinkedIn who have been regular and enthusiastic participants.

Results of Skills 30:30 include businesses finding part-time staff; offers of work experience to students; and local managers and the self-employed becoming Enterprise Advisors.

FSB Kent and Medway looks forward to reviving Skills 30:30 next year. The first booking has already been made with Wilmington Academy, Dartford, on Friday 25 June 2021.