Surlingham firm’s pioneering app connects students to businesses

launch of Cnnect App with Cloe Smith at Framingham Earl High School launch of Cnnect App with Cloe Smith at Framingham Earl High School

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
5:44 PM

A Norfolk firm is to market an app aimed at improving communication between businesses and schools and better preparing students for the workplace.

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Norwich North MP Chloe Smith visited Framingham Earl High School to formally launch the Connect App which has been pioneered by training and development company MoCo Development.

Students there have been involved in the development of the project along with youngsters at Flegg High, Martham and Langley School.

The app links them to nine “focus zones” – including teamwork, persistence, flexibility and reliability –which employers have underlined as key criteria when choosing staff.

The idea is that students relate what they do at school and in their leisure time to the focus zones and, using the app, cite examples where their actions have successfully met the criteria.

Managers from business sponsors taking part in the trial, including prominent local companies such as Larking Gowen Chartered Accountants and Leathes Prior Solicitors as well as public sector bodies such as Broadland District Council, then use the app to give feedback. They also give examples of how daily activities in their own business relate to the focus zones.

Stephen Ferrey, managing-director of MoCo Development, which has a staff of five at its base in Common Road, Surlingham, said: “The app helps students make the link between what they do at school and the world of work and it gives them a portfolio of examples if, for example, a prospective employer asks them to give an example of successful teamwork.

“It makes them realise the relevance of what they are doing at the moment to what they do in the future.”

He said the app put the subject matter in “the palm of their hand” and enabled students to enage with it any time.

“We found a lot come out of schools with examples and start looking at it between 5.30pm and 7pm,” he said.

Mr Ferrey, who started his enterprise in 2009, said businesses had also found the systematic approach useful giving managers material to discuss in appraisals and one-to-ones.

The trial has been carried out with year seven students but the plan is to widen the age groups involved and roll out the app more widely, eventually nationally.

Business sponsors joined Miss Smith for the launch and heard her describe the app’s development as a “really exciting scheme”.

She said it had come out of ideas discussed during the planning of the Norwich For Jobs campaign to reduce youth unemployment.

Ruth Bullard, director of business at Flegg High, said: “When we ask students about what they are good at, they usually give examples in relation to school work. Connect makes students think out of the classroom about skills which are not just relating to school.”

Arthur Vandenberg, assistant head at Framingham Earl, said what was notable was the enthusiasm of students when speaking to sponsors.

Have you launched an exciting new venture? Email stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk or ben.woods@archant.co.uk

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