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Tackling the Climate Emergency with Agent Academy

With the support of 11 Framework Partners, Procure Partnerships Framework has worked with Agent Academy since January, to give Academy 11, the latest Agent Academy cohort, an insight into the construction industry and a challenge that allows them to develop and hone their digital marketing skills, so that they can build their experience and enter the world of work. Supporting the Agent Academy programme has allowed Procure Partnerships Framework, and its partners, to collaborate on a project that works towards alleviating skills shortages that impact UK industry, specifically the digital and creative industry, with a focus on construction and the climate emergency built into the Academy 11 challenge.

Procure Partnerships Framework is delighted to work with a group of supportive contractors that put tackling social issues, like the skills gaps impacting upon so many UK industries. It is our great pleasure to have been supported by ISG, Novus Property Solutions, Seddon, Graham, Galliford Try, Crossfield, Interserve, McLaren, City Build, Morris and Spottiswood, and Wates to sponsor Agent Academy, thank you to all.

What is Agent Academy

Agent Academy was set up in 2014, as a response to the alarming skills gap facing the creative and digital industry. It was established as a solution to the issues faced by 18-25-year-olds, who find themselves, post-higher education, without the skills they need to kickstart a career in the industry.

The 12-week programme provides young people with the opportunity to combine hands-on experience with action-based learning. The programme educates participants on the fundamentals of strategy, creative, digital, campaigns and leadership, introducing them to influential leaders from different sectors, industries and backgrounds. Participants also visit and receive guidance from influential organisations from across the wider city region, to aid their development and to expand their professional networks.

The success of the Agent Academy is evident in the results it delivers and the impact it has, including:

· 10 Agent Academy programmes before this

· 150 young people receiving intensive training

· 95% success rate of Academy participants securing full time jobs

· Resulting in £2.5 million worth of annual salaries

· Partnership programmes with Facebook, Liverpool John Moores University, Edge Hill University and the University of Liverpool

On the experience so far Academy 11 participant, Amy, stated: “Agent Academy has been a challenging, informative and fun experience that I’m extremely grateful for. The highlight has definitely been the amount of industry experts we’ve got to speak to.”

The Client Challenge

As part of the Agent Academy programme, Academy 11 were set a client challenge which was to understand “what are the greatest challenges, relating to the climate emergency, and how to deliver action when creating places and spaces”. A huge undertaking to say the least, it required the participants to delve into the relationships between local authorities, public sector organisations and the construction industry, and build an understanding, through research and engagement sessions, of how the aforementioned organisations must collaborate to combat the climate emergency. The client challenge gives the sponsoring organisations a valuable resource with which to implement changes to their businesses thanks to the in-depth research carried out by the participants and the recommendations that research leads to.

Who did Academy 11 meet with?

The engagement sessions that the Academy 11 participants conducted were designed to give the best insight into how public sector organisations plan for the future and plan for changing needs. Over the course of the programme the participants met with representatives from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Liverpool John Moores University, University of Liverpool Estates, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Knowsley Council, and McLaren Construction.

How did they find the challenge?

On the whole, the participants took to the challenge fantastically even when it proved difficult which is reflected in the comments when asked: How have you found the Procure Partnerships Framework client challenge?

Lauren: Initially, I found the client challenge very difficult. Even just understanding what Procure Partnerships Framework did and what the phrases and jargon used in the construction industry meant was a struggle. However, over time and working collectively as a team I feel I have a well-established knowledge of the client and what they hope to do. Also, I believe it is important for us all to learn more about environmental issues and this has been a real eye-opener.”

Penny: “The client challenge was interesting for two reasons: one, learning about the construction industry and the process that goes into procuring construction projects, and two, learning more about the impact of climate change. We all know climate change is real, but to hear about it from professionals and research it as part of the challenge, put it more into perspective. I have taken this learning and applied it to my personal life as well as given me the goal of ensuring I have a super sustainable and environmentally friendly home.”

Oisin: “I was starting to give up on pursuing my hope of a job in marketing in Liverpool until I found the Academy. Since then my prospects have done a complete 180 and now, I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Now I’m looking forward to adding my own touch to the digital marketing landscape in Liverpool.”

Digital Marketing Skills; what did the participants learn?

Agent Academy is an intensive training programme that provides young people with the opportunity to learn vital skills from experienced industry experts and leaders, then put them into action in the client challenge.

The sessions delivered to Academy 11 covered the full digital mix and were designed by the Agent Academy team to refresh and enhance the skills of the participants in the most engaging manner, with exciting sessions and interesting businesses. The content of the sessions included strategy, project management, design, concept development, e-commerce, web-development, communication, and relationship management.

The Academy 11 participants have made valuable connections and have been a part of sessions that were hosted by senior professionals in marketing, the public sector, and construction. The enjoyment they took from the programme, and the benefit they believe it gives to people that want to be responsible for improving their skills and beginning a career in the digital marketing industry, is clear from the comments of the participants when asked: How have you found the Agent Academy Experience?

Harry: “My Agent Academy experience has been an incredibly enlightening one. After struggling to find opportunities in the creative sector, Agent Academy has allowed me to network and meet a large amount of great people. It has also given me a greater sense of confidence when it comes to expressing my own ideas and thoughts.”

Jonny: “The client challenge has been thought provoking as it requires a deep understanding of the relationship between sustainability and procurement. I have enjoyed engaging with expert speakers on this topic and learning first-hand about how we can build sustainable green spaces for the future.”

Abbie: “The client challenge has been interesting. At first, I was unsure but now I feel like I’ve gained so much knowledge on the subject. It’s great to see how we all have turned into mini experts and going into engagement sessions with professionals and knowing things I would never have known at the beginning, it’s a good confidence boost!”

What happens next?

The final element of any Agent Academy programme is to present the finding of the research and engagement sessions to the client and industry at an event planned and managed by the participants. It is the highlight of every Agent Academy group and shows the development of each and every young person over the 12 weeks of the programme. It allows them to demonstrate their skills and it allows them to present on their client challenge topic with confidence and authority. Owing to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that has unfortunately been postponed until further notice.

Robbie Blackhurst, Framework Director at Procure Partnerships Framework commented on Academy 11: “It is a shame that the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic has led to the postponement of Academy 11’s final event, this group deserved to show their skills off. Throughout the duration of the programme, Agent Academy has been updating our team regularly and to hear about the participants confidently questioning directors of estates and members of local government on their plans for the future of the region and climate change generally, really showed what a thorough job the Agent Academy team has done designing this course. I and Procure Partnerships Framework would recommend sponsoring Agent Academy with confidence, there are skills gaps in industries across the country and we’ve tried to take responsibility with our framework partners, who must be thanked, for trying to fill those gaps.”