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Real-life work challenges tackled by school students


School students were given a real taste of the world of work through a placement activity week organised by a leading engineering firm and the University of Wolverhampton.

ZF Lemforder joined forces with the University to enable 27 Walsall Academy students to gain experience through a factory visit and a week of focused activities.

The placement week started with the Year 12 students visiting the firm’s Wednesbury factory and concluded with an awards ceremony.

Head of Department for Finance, Accounting, Systems and Economics at the University, Andy Groves, liaised with staff at ZF Lemforder to create a number of problem-solving challenges for the students to complete throughout the week, based on real-life issues faced by the company.

This included a ‘treasure hunt’ which required the students to navigate themselves around the City Campus gathering ‘clues’ along the way. Over the next couple of days, the students were given a programme of mini-lectures and talks delivered by academics and other relevant professionals.

Topics included managing absenteeism, health and safety, mergers and acquisitions, digital capability, supply chain management, sustainability and team working.

Students were split into groups and given a specific issue to focus on, leading up to a group presentation at the end of the week. ‌To make the experience as 'real life' as possible a series of 'distraction activities' were organised. These were designed to take students away from the task they were focussing on to do something completely different. These fun, team-building activities included designing bridges out of paper, masking tape and paperclips and making boats out of Lego.

Andy Groves, from University of Wolverhampton Business School, said: "Feedback from ZF Lemforder was extremely positive. They were very impressed with the students' ideas, research and attitude. The students were a great credit to the school - they conducted themselves professionally and I couldn't speak more highly of them. This is the second year we have run such a project, and we look forward to welcoming more students from Walsall Academy for taster sessions in a range of subjects and repeating the week-long visit next year."

Project lead for Walsall Academy, Assistant Director of Careers, Andrew Glover, said the aim of the project was to give students the knowledge and experience they needed to make informed decisions about their future, along with an experience of consultancy/accountancy client-based work.

He added: "The University of Wolverhampton has done a fantastic job at supporting the students through a difficult phase of establishing what next steps they need to take. The project has made a substantial contribution to the students’ knowledge of working in a consultancy environment. ZF Lemforder was an excellent partner and really gave the students some helpful advice and support on the final day.”

The project also provided the Walsall Academy students with an opportunity to learn more about the University environment. They were based in the University's new, purpose-built Business School building in Wolverhampton. Links with ZF Lemforder were developed building on connections established through previous work with the University’s Executive Education service led by Principal Consultant (Business Engagement) David Roberts.

Further information

Pic: Walsall Academy students at the University of Wolverhampton

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

Date Issued: Friday, 21 July 2017

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

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