Professor April McMahon, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Kent, visited The Leigh Academy on Friday 12th October to speak to Post-16 students on the theme of employability in the 21st century.

Pitching her presentation perfectly, April explored two key ideas that students found very illuminating: firstly, that in a rapidly evolving workplace, experience often counts for more than qualifications and, secondly, that being able to present your personal brand to an employer will often be the key thing that makes you stand out from your competition. She explained that all experience is good experience, meaning that students need to be able to extract the skills and attributes they have developed, rather than focusing on the tasks undertaken. However, she also made the point that experience of the type of environment in which you hope to work, though not necessarily of the role you are aiming for, can often be vital. She emphasised that employers look for personal qualities that will match their workplace, so students need to be able to sell their own personal brand identity to potential employers. Of course, this means that students need to be self-aware and work hard to emphasise their winning attributes!

April is keen to maintain her new relationship with the Academy and plans to make a return visit. She has also established a contact between the Academy and her colleague, Dr Scott Wildman, who is the Director of the University of Kent’s Centre for Higher and Degree Apprenticeships. It is hoped that this will be the start of a very fruitful ongoing relationship between the Academy and the University.