Pupils give Asda technology bosses food for thought

Pupils from a Bradford school have given Asda technology bosses food for thought with their competition entries.

Teams from Bradford Academy were asked to pitch to a team from Asda as part of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership’s (the LEP) Enterprise Adviser Network programme.

The contest saw the Year 8 pupils present their ideas to use smart speaker app technology for the benefit of the retailer and its customers. The winning teams were given a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of Asda House, the retail giant’s headquarters in Leeds.

One of the joint winning teams proposed a smart speaker that synchronises a family’s weekly meal plan with the weekly shop and creates a shopping list of ingredients. The other joint winners suggested a smart system that would attach to a shopping trolley and act like a satnav to find products, as well as scanning barcodes to tot up the cost.

Enterprise Advisers work closely with the senior leadership team in a local school to support them in developing their careers and enterprise strategies and employer engagement plans.

Jonathan Galluci, Project Manager from Asda Technology who works as an Enterprise Adviser with Bradford Academy, said:
“We were really impressed by the ideas the pupils came up with and are even looking at whether we can incorporate some of them into the technology we already use.
“It’s really important that as an organisation we encourage the next generation to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects; as we know at Asda and other organisations, we need the right skills for the economy to grow.”

Jonathan is one of 160 Enterprise Advisers working within schools across Leeds City Region as part of the Enterprise Adviser Network. The network, which works in partnership with business, was founded in 2015 and has influenced over 90,000 enterprise encounters with pupils. 

Jonathan and the team at Bradford Academy have also run engagement sessions on careers in STEM subjects including technology and mock job interviews.

The Enterprise Adviser Network programme is designed to meet the Government’s ambition that every young person has around one encounter with an employer every year they are in education. To meet this ambition, which was outlined in the Department for Education’s Careers Strategy, December 2017, around one in every 20 employees would need to volunteer.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said:
“One of our key strengths as a region is our young population and I am passionate about ensuring there are opportunities for all young people. I’m delighted with the success of the Enterprise Adviser Network which is a fantastic way to help make sure we have students who are ready to join the workforce and have the skills to match the needs of employers. The involvement of organisations like Asda with our school pupils is a great way to increase the employability of our young people.
“This is particularly important with STEM subjects which are key to the future economy and need greater uptake in schools to satisfy the needs of employers.
“We know that inspiring young people at an early age really pays off and there tends to be more scope to be flexible in the school day in lower years, so more opportunity for these kinds of experiences are very welcome. I absolutely support the call for more businesses and employees to volunteer their time to join the network and help our young people gain these employability skills they need.”

Samantha Taylor, Progressions Manager at Bradford Academy, said: 
“We were linked with ASDA through the LEP earlier on this year and the relationship we have built with them so far is already beginning to benefit  our young people.
“Through our involvement in the STEM smart speaker competition learners developed many skills such as communication, team work, confidence and resilience which will transition with them as they move on into the world of work. The competition challenged their thinking and illustrated to them how the subjects they are studying now relate to employment.”