Sky’s Skills Studio helps to build stronger link between business and community

Daniella Vega and her team at Sky have helped to inspire more than 12,000 youngsters thanks to a uniquely collaborative effort across the business

What’s the background? Over the last decade, Sky has built a legacy of award-winning schools initiatives but we wanted to do even more. We thought we could build on the positive view that young people have of the Sky brand and let them experience what it’s like to get behind a camera at Sky.

Our goal was to develop an experience which would combine our brand, our technology, our content and our people to help young people develop life skills, learn about the world of work and develop the next generation of talent for the creative industries.

Give us the low-down on what you did. I undertook face-to-face interviews with our CEO, CFO and our wider executive team to understand their perspective of the role of business, our sector and Sky in education and learning.

I then spoke with a number of opinion formers to understand the challenges facing young people in education, the need from business and the role Sky could best play. From this I formed a strategy which was signed off by our CEO.

We developed a partnership with our top design agency and our team of external education specialists to help bring our vision to life. Concepts that would enable young people to experience Sky were tested through in-depth research with teachers, whose feedback guided our approach, ensuring that it linked to life skills and the Curriculum.

The outcome was Sky Skills Studios, where young people can get hands-on experience of making a TV report while helping teachers deliver on the Curriculum. Starting with a tour of Sky Studios we show them how we make, shape and share TV, inspiring them about the world of work. Then in Sky Skills Studios, they write, shoot and edit their own TV report using cutting-edge technology, including broadcast quality cameras, green screens and touch-screen edit tables. They are supported by a team leader to ensure they are developing the skills necessary to deliver the report.

Each school is given a video camera and each student an Inspiration Pack to facilitate the use of their new skills back at school. These activities are tracked through research to measure long-term impact on visitors and the wider school community.

What impact have you had? Launched in September 2012, the objectives of the Sky Skills Studios experience are to inspire 12,000 young people and improve their skills through participation by September 2013, and to raise awareness among consumers, opinion formers and Sky Staff.

Opinion former engagement formed an important part of our communications strategy, including hosting visits for MPs. Local MP Mary Macleod said: “Sky Skills Studios is exactly the sort of long-term investment in the next generation we need to help us find and encourage talented and innovative individuals who will keep our creative sector the envy of the world. It’s great to see a business like Sky taking responsibility for training and inspiring young people like this.”

Preliminary findings on the social impact are:

  • 94% teachers felt the visit improved students’ knowledge of the media;

  • 88% students felt the visit would help them improve at school;

  • 19% rise in students confidence*;

  • 16% rise in students communication and creativity*; and

  • 13% rise in students teamwork*.

[* those who rated themselves 4 or 5/5 at the start and the end of the experience.]

At the end of year 1 we will communicate the social impact of the initiative with the aim of improving brand favourability among our three audiences: consumers, opinion formers and Sky staff.

And why do you deserve to win Sustainability Champion of the Year? It’s hard to articulate why I personally should win this award. Sustainability is collaborative and in my ten years of experience in this field, great things are achieved through meaningful conversations and participatory working.

So I deserve to win the award on behalf of the visionary leadership from my CEO and senior leadership at Sky who see the links between better business and better society and the role our business has to play, on behalf of my great schools team who worked so hard to bring this vision to life and who continue to encourage and inspire thousands of young people every year and on behalf of the young people who visit us every day and blow us away with their creativity, their passion and their unique view on the world.

This article forms Daniella Vega's submission into the Sustainability Champion of the Year category of the 2degrees Sustainability Champions Awards 2013. It was written and submitted by Daniella Vega, head of responsibility, BSkyB.

Supporting materials: