One Year On: How Our Business Skills Courses Have Made a Difference

One Year On: How Our Business Skills Courses Have Made a Difference

Our business skills start-up, Flying Start XP, has just celebrated its first birthday. It’s definitely been a year of teething and sleepless nights in some respects, but we’re also very chuffed at the ways we have already managed to make a difference to young people and their career goals.

Here are some of the ways our courses have made an impact:

Helping Businesses Get New Starters Into Gear

All of us are business people through and through. We conceived Flying Start XP as a way to help young people, but also as a way to help businesses to up-skill their new starters faster, and to make the most out of their investment in the best talent.

Working with our business partners has been really satisfying. We’ve been able to watch our dream – of teaching young people the practical skills and business behaviours missing from the education system – become a reality.

Berendsen were one of our first corporate clients, and they gave us some great feedback:

‘We asked Flying Start to deliver a week-long programme which would help our trainees to understand themselves better and focus their development on becoming effective future managers. Feedback from both managers and trainees has been remarkable and the positive comments have continued to come in even months later, as the Trainees reflect on their learning and apply it to their projects’ (Gemma Morrison, HR Manager, Berendsen).

University Students and Graduates: Building Business Skills

University is nothing if not intense. The feedback we’ve had from alumni is that our courses have been a valuable way to step back from the pressures of the academic curriculum. We’ve offered them the space to ensure that they are keeping their eye on the prize: a rewarding, stimulating job after they graduate.

Here’s what some students and graduates have had to say about our courses and workshops:

‘Flying Start XP really opened my eyes to what business expects from an individual’ (Jess, Birmingham, 2016)

‘It has opened my eyes to another side of life and given me invaluable experience for my future career’ (Darius, Level 1 Student 2016).

One student was able to use the business behaviours and tools he learned on our course to secure a prestigious City internship, which will make him highly employable when he completes his studies:

‘The dedication of the Flying Start XP team and the close-knit relationships they built with us, the students, created an atmosphere in which we all thrived. I came into this course with very little understanding of the business world, but by the end of the week, I was able to negotiate effectively, create budget plans, communicate with stakeholders and develop a high performing team… I have recently secured an internship at a global consultancy in London. Without my course at Flying Start XP, this quite simply would not have been possible (Hamish, London 2017).

Confidence for Interviews & Assessment Centres

It is really difficult to present your best self in the pressured environments of interviews and assessment centres. All of us know talented people who stumble again and again, despite having great credentials and a strong work ethic. This can be through lack of confidence or, often, a nervous over-confidence.

We wanted to devise teaching methods that helped individuals build a personal approach, grounded in their unique strengths. We hoped to be able to teach our students a deeper level of self-awareness so that they could walk into interview calmly and confidently, and present a convincing and authentic account of themselves. And also, so that they would be resilient when at times they inevitably failed.

We’ve been so happy to get feedback showing that we are on the right track in building our students’ career confidence:

It can be a difficult task to find a company that not only has the knowledge and ability to aid your development, but also one that truly cares about its client, and I can safely say that Flying Start XP is that needle in the haystack’ (Thomas, career mentoring session participant, 2016).

Getting Jobs and Getting Promoted

Employability is what we’re all about. We’ve been so grateful to our alumni who’ve got in touch to tell us the ways in which our courses and career mentoring have helped them get the jobs they want:

‘The techniques/skills that you taught me have been very transferable & helpful in getting me this job. I am also still working hard on how to improve my daily routines, to make sure I am achieving what I want to. A huge thank-you!’ (Will, Level 1 Student).

‘The course really helped me to learn tools I can use in the day-to-day business environment and I think everything we’ve discussed will be a very valuable factor in developing as a future leader’ (James, Level 2 Student).

Despite our course being only one year old, we are already seeing evidence that it provides tools for participants to use throughout their careers, not just as they settle into their new jobs. A graduate of one of our bespoke business courses got in touch to let us know how helpful our teaching had been in applying for a more senior position:

‘I implemented a range of things I learned whilst on the Flying Start course during the assessment centre and am completely sure that they helped me in being offered the job! The team task, something we did a lot of work on during the course, along with the experience I have to draw upon in the interview, I felt a particularly strong candidate. I would like to thank you for the work you did for me and hope you can continue to positively impact the future of many bright, young, and aspirational people!’ (Student, bespoke corporate course).

Parents Supporting Their Children

Our courses have also been embraced by parents keen to ensure their children emerge from the education system with the skills to get a great job.

Our hope one year ago was that we would be able to support parents with children demotivated within the school system and lacking the confidence to find the right ‘next step’. We also knew there were many parents out there who wished to broaden their child’s skills base to include the kind of practical experience and skills missing from many CVs.

One parent told us ‘this is not the Angus we know talking, so you really have tapped into something….He has learnt more in 5 days than in a whole year of doing his Business A-Level’ (Katrina, Parent. 2016).

Ambitious School Students

We have had fantastic fun working with students at Clayesmore, Cranleigh and Whitgift Schools. Delivering our courses to A-level students has felt particularly powerful: a great point in life at which to remind young people to keep career goals at the front of their minds.

It can be easy to get caught up in academic demands, and to neglect the self-development and work experience needed to acquire the more practical skills employers want to see. A-level students have welcomed our courses as a prompt to them to take charge of their own future careers at the earliest possible point.

The feedback we got from our education partners was really positive:

‘The highlight of Cranleigh Careers 2017 has to be our Futures Week with Flying Start. They put our lower sixth formers through their paces with a plethora of activities from personal impact; body language and social media workshops; negotiating tasks; team dynamics and challenging interviews. Pupils are now equipped with essential tools and top tips to support them in their search for their future. The facilitators were highly professional, approachable and knowledgeable, a pleasure to work with’ (Amanda Reader, Head of Careers at Cranleigh School)

Next Challenges

As the new academic year gets underway, we will be building our range of courses and extending our offering in both London and Birmingham. We are also developing our work with apprentices (see our blog on best practice here). The team has long been keen to get involved in the world of apprenticeships: increasingly an exciting, lucrative, hands-on space for young people to find career opportunities.

We thank our business clients and students for their enthusiastic support in our first year and look forward to chatting with more of you over the coming months.

Flying Start XP run workshops for 16-24 year-olds. Our students acquire the confidence needed to get the best jobs and to add value to their employers from day one. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter for all the latest news, updates and special offers.

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