There was excitement and anticipation at Microsoft’s Reading HQ today as staff welcomed HRH Duke of York, who came to visit the Thames Valley Park Campus to find out more about Microsoft’s community initiatives and work in supporting small businesses and start-ups.
The Duke’s visit was filled with a variety of events, including a meeting with Microsoft’s DPE (Developer Platform Evangelism) team to showcase their work with a UK games studio and a meeting with Apprentice Ambassadors to challenge misconceptions of apprenticeships.
The morning commenced with The Duke joining the audience of one of Microsoft’s ‘Get On’ inspiration events along with 45 young people from Reading College and Reading Job Centre. Interestingly, these events are run by Microsoft interns as evidence has shown that peer-to-peer support is most effective in inspiring young people.
As Ella Brown, Get On Intern Lead says: “leading The Get On programme has been a fantastic opportunity to both positively influence youth, but also to challenge myself in a variety of ways; after running my own event I am now increasingly confident and cannot think of a better reward than inspiring young people!’. Get On is a Microsoft programme which aims to help 300,000 young people get inspired, get skilled and get a job.
After a few inspirational words at ‘The Get On’ event, the Duke then met the DPE team to observe the preparation for a forthcoming Guinness World Record attempt of “the largest video game Player vs Player battle” in March next year. The session was run by Illyriad Games, a small UK start up from Nottingham which with the support of Microsoft, is aiming to build a new in depth multiplayer role playing game.
Chatting to some of Microsoft’s Apprentice Ambassadors, The Duke learned about apprenticeships at the company and about the challenges apprentices will face when going into schools. Microsoft has successfully developed an Apprenticeship programme with a small group of national training providers aimed at providing a pathway for young people into its partner network of 33,000 IT businesses. The programme, now in its fourth year, has seen 4,000 apprentices participate with 3,000 companies across the UK.
To round off the visit, the Duke then met with youth club workers and young people involved in The Wayz youth club in Bracknell. Microsoft Youth Hubs programme invests in clubs across the country to increase IT Provision. In March 2013, The Wayz was one of the 30 youth clubs offered the opportunity to become a Microsoft IT Hub, working with over 120 young people each week to bring new opportunities to the local community.