Over 150 local young people from 60-plus secondary schools gathered at Aerospace Bristol under the wings of Concorde for the West of England Schools Summit hosted by Metro Mayor Dan Norris, and co-designed with Creative Youth Network.
The students were there to learn about the careers of the future they might follow and make their voices heard on key regional issues affecting their lives – and so directly shape the policy decisions of Mr Norris’s West of England Mayoral Combined Authority.
They did this by taking part in a series of interactive workshops led by top regional employers. Student favourites included a session from Bristol Energy Network on cutting energy use with the aid of a giant Monopoly-style board, and one where the young engineers and planners of the future put a LEGO model of a city under the shocks and stresses of changing weather conditions.
Ten students also got to pitch their brilliant policy ideas to Mayor Norris and his expert panel of business leaders in a live Dragon’s Den-style competition.
Meanwhile at the ‘marketplace’, young people got to find out about the skills they would need to take up jobs helping tackle the number one issue for the region’s youngsters – the climate and ecological emergencies in the West. They also could pick up some wildflower seeds to help Mr Norris in his efforts to make the West the bee and pollinator capital of the UK, meet a robot dog and learn about the routes to becoming an apprentice.
Mayor Dan Norris told us the climate emergency was definitely the biggest talking point at the supersonic charged event. Commenting he said: “Thank you to all the students who came to my West of England Schools Summit and for sharing your brilliant ideas to help my Mayoral Combined Authority get on with making our region an even better place to live, study, and thrive. You told me your number one issue was the climate and biodiversity emergency we face, but more importantly you also looked for solutions.”
The ideas from the young people will directly feed into West of England Mayoral Combined Authority policy – including an upcoming West of England plan for transport – while the Mayoral Combined Authority will issue progress reports on how the Summit has shaped change and impacted the region.
Mr Norris continued: “This Summit was all about asking young people what kind of West of England they want to see – and turning their ideas into reality.” The Metro Mayor was joined by event sponsors Deloitte, Atkins and Airbus. Other companies and organisations taking part in the day included Air Giant and the National History Consortium.