Skills Bootcamp 2022 connects employers with students

May 25, 2022 | Work experience/internships

A new skills development initiative is connecting employers with students to support employability.

While the pandemic forced a 30% decline in internship and placement opportunities (ISE student recruitment survey 2020), employers continued to prefer hiring talent with work experience and demonstrable skills.

There was an urgent need to innovate new models to help students – notably those from disadvantaged backgrounds – to build the requisite skills and qualify for the more coveted jobs. We set up Skills Bootcamp, with support from ISE, to address this critical need. 

“I had been struggling with getting the confidence to sign up for things because it has been such a challenging year but completing this project really boosted my confidence and showed me that I can communicate in a team and work on something which is a completely new skill to me,’’ said Skills Bootcamp 2021 participant, Beatriz from University of Cambridge. This reflects the feelings of many students and recent graduates since the onset of Covid-19

This year’s Skills Bootcamp will begin on 4 July 2022. It will run for six weeks and employers can choose which week(s) they would like to participate in.

What is Skills Bootcamp?

Skills Bootcamp is a free, part-time, virtual employability skills training programme. The two-month programme focuses on a key transferable skill (like problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, etc.) that employers look for during the hiring process, each week.

Students learnt about each skill through hour-long live masterclasses, team micro-projects, group exercises, and guidance from industry mentors.

How is the Skills Bootcamp different from similar programmes? 

Project-based learning: Skills Bootcamp uses the project-based learning pedagogy that advocates “learning-by-doing” (rather than learning-by-reading format). The projects offer them an opportunity to solve real-world problems through peer-group collaboration, work-planning, proactive time-management and independent thinking. 

Flexibility: The virtual, part-time programme involves 1-2 hours of live sessions per week and offers students the opportunity to engage asynchronously and schedule team sessions at their convenience (around their other commitments). All sessions are recorded to allow students to revisit key learning modules.   

Industry partnerships: A large number of industry professionals volunteer their time (1 to 3 hours at their convenience) to virtually mentor students on their project work or virtually evaluate their project outputs. It offers many employer organisations a free opportunity to share information about their graduate roles with a large, diverse talent pool that they are otherwise unable to reach through their traditional channels. 

Cross-university participation: The Bootcamp offers students a chance to connect and collaborate with peers they otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to. In a way, it prepares them well for the world of work where they will engage and collaborate with new colleagues from diverse backgrounds – most likely in a virtual or hybrid environment. 

What impact has Skills Bootcamp had on students?

When we set out to create Skills Bootcamp we had no idea the reach it would end up having over a single summer – just three months.

Our focus for the programme was not the numbers, but making sure that we created a positive difference for every participant during the weeks. As Jing Xin from University of Southampton explains, ‘’It is a fantastic opportunity to get involved in the bootcamps! I absolutely enjoyed it. The course is really well-structured and it certainly has boosted my practical knowledge in business!’’

The Bootcamp helped students to build their skills, engage with mentors, network with employers and even build a digital portfolio to showcase their work (and skills)!

Most importantly, it fostered a sharing and supportive community that gained in confidence (many of the participants had been unsuccessful in finding internships that summer) and enjoyed a productive summer with tangible achievements and outputs (digital portfolios, Linkedin profiles, etc.).

And they came from all across the UK; this was the beauty of going virtual – there were no limits to the reach we could have!

How are we improving Skills Bootcamp for 2022?

With 2021 being our pilot year, we went through a huge learning curve, trying to understand how we could multiply our impact while being a small team. Some of the learnings that we are implementing this year include: 

  1. While 10 weeks worth of skills had huge benefits, it can be time consuming to spend an entire summer dedicated to a single programme. This is why we decided to shorten the programme to six weeks so more students would have the opportunity to complete it in its entirety. 
  2. During our pilot our main focus was university students in the UK, however we noticed students from other regions and levels of study joining for the experience. With this in mind, this year we are opening up participation to high school students (16-18) and students from any region. 
  3. Last year most of our partner employers were from the financial services sector. This year we want to widen our reach and invite employers from all sectors to join us. It’s completely free to join, requiring only an hour during the week to mentor student teams. 


Skills Bootcamp 2022

With the impact we made last year, we are all-in for another year of Skills Bootcamp, making it an annual feature in our events calendar. The Skills Bootcamp curriculum is fully accredited by the CPD and allows all participants to earn CPD credits and certification. 

If you’re an educator or employer who’d like to make an impact and be a part of this programme, you can get involved by emailing or book a meeting with us through Calendly.

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