Growth and expansion is on the cards for a Teesside charity, whose digital transformation during the pandemic has enabled it to provide a fascinating interactive insight into potential future careers to more young people than ever.
The High Tide Foundation has made two key trustee appointments and is looking forward to the return of face-to-face work placements in 2022 for those students who have demonstrated they have a passion for a certain sector through participation in the charity’s interactive online programmes.
High Tide’s online offering is also expected to grow and grow in 2022, with the familiarity of virtual platforms like Zoom and Teams brought about by the pandemic showing businesses it can be easier than ever to get involved in live engagements with young potential employees of the future.
Mark Easby, chair of The High Tide Foundation, said:
“Prior to the pandemic, the charity was all about physical work experience – getting out of the classroom and meeting professionals in the industry who could give students aged 11 to 19 an insight into career opportunities in their sector.
“We started to expand into other sectors so the students had access to creative and media businesses, automotive businesses and manufacturing, and they could have a really engaging session with leaders in these fields to understand what their business looks like and what they do.
“When the pandemic hit, we couldn’t do any of that work in person, so we have been through a massive digital transformation over the past 18 months.”
Mark added that 2021 has been about “piloting” the digital programmes it quickly developed – and is delighted to say these have proven to be “incredibly successful”, with at least 3,500 young people engaging virtually with The High Tide Foundation since June.
“Since we started up in 2012, we have provided work placements for about 20,000 young people.
“The figure was at about 14,000 before the start of the pandemic, so it just shows the impact of our digital transformation.
“This doesn’t include the number using the online learning hub – where we have careers information, behind the scenes work experience videos and real-life career stories from our business members – so there could be thousands more visiting that and watching the inspirational videos on there.”
The charity’s digital offering now sits centrally within the careers information and work placements it provides, helping to increase its success at connecting businesses within the programme and work placements with potential future employees and showcasing career opportunities in their sector.
“The benefit of our digital offering is that we can reach more young people on a placement and make sure that those who come onto our physical placements are the ones that have shown they are really engaged – and we get the right young people into the right businesses in sectors that are of interest to them,” Mark explained.
New trustees Neil Parker and Paula McMahon will also bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in 2022.
As an experienced entrepreneur, vastly successful when it comes to financial governance and as a long-time friend and supporter of High Tide, Neil will now help the foundation move forward as a trustee.
“Neil is passionate about making sure that opportunities and support are available for younger people,” said Lauren Bywater, general manager of the foundation.
“He was once in a position where he hated his job, so he put in all his holidays and retrained in financial planning, so his passion for making sure there’s a lot of support available for young people comes from there.”
“We’ve worked with High Tide for many years as a local company so it was a natural progression for me when I was asked to join as a trustee.
“Other than being a Teessider born and bred, I was asked to bring financial planning skills to help High Tide develop and deliver on a business plan to provide as many opportunities to young people across the region as possible.
“I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and seeing the good work on the ground and working with the other trustees and High Tide Colleagues.”
Speaking of Paula’s appointment, Lauren said:
“Paula is such an inspiration for young females and has talked about the challenges she’s experienced as a female engineer.
“She’s also just recently won the Lifelong Inspiration award at the Tees Businesswomen Awards.”
Lauren explained Paula has a key position with Sir Robert McAlpine, which is heavily committed to apprenticeships and schools, as well as being the regional Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) supervisor and mentor.
Paula also chairs two engineering organisations aimed at helping young people in their own careers.
“I have been working with High Tide for a few years as a STEM ambassador,” said Paula.
“I’m particularly drawn to working with them because I can relate to the young people of the Tees Valley they support and I keep coming back to work with them due to the great High Tide team who make it very easy for an employer to contribute.
“I very much look forward to the coming year, working alongside the diverse High Tide trustees to provide the delivery of interactive, exciting and meaningful work experience to many more students.”
Lauren believes the fact the foundation has attracted these “two big players” to the board shows there are exciting times ahead for High Tide.
“It also reinforces that we are in a really strong place with our digital transformation and our wider programme offer,” she added.
“We have just taken some new offices at the launchpad at Teesside University for graduate startup businesses and our already strong partnership with Teesside University is growing.
“We are part of that learning and careers journey for young people on Teesside and we want to show other young people these are the options that you’ve got after school and college on Teesside.
“Hopefully, this will inspire them to go on and learn more about working in whatever sector they are interested in.”
For more information about the High Tide Foundation, visit hightidefoundation.co.uk