At our Alumni event in Manchester we caught up with Aaron Saxton, Director of Education at UKFast, to talk about the organisation’s Community and Education Trust which has committed £5 million to provide more opportunities to young people in the community.
It’s clear that UKFast is committed to delivering impact – you achieved a Princess Royal Training Award by evidencing just that – what impact do you want this £5m commitment to make?
As a team, we want to continue to work to inspire those most in need of a little support to be the best they can be. That’s one of the fundamental objectives of the Community and Education Trust – to contribute to the education and development of young people and the wider community.
The impact we’d love to see is a reduction of the poverty gap through the development of digital skills. To achieve that, we focus on understanding young people and communities who face scenarios of abuse, neglect and different forms of hardship.
As with many cities today, wealth and poverty sit side by side – discovering that children in your local school couldn’t afford even 20p must have been a real shock – how did it make you feel?
I don’t believe that money brings happiness or is the solution to all of the world’s problems. I’m a passionate believer that giving time and resources is one of the most powerful things we can do to help people and communities be better. We want to give people the skills, tools and access to better opportunities.
You are working to make a real difference to those local children – is there anything that can be done for their parents?
We’re moving in that direction and we are already working with schools, parents and teachers. We want to create a sustainable model where all stakeholders are inspired to be better and become role models for future generations, especially in the digital space.
We’re looking to make a systemic change in society, so we’re doing a lot with clients and the general public through events such as open tech community workshops for budding entrepreneurs.
Last month you received a royal visit. Has the association with The Princess Royal made a difference to UKFast and to your impact on the community?
100%. It’s put us in the spotlight, which is nice! People always recognise the great work that we do with our apprentices and educational partners. The Awards have helped us as a team to articulate how and why we’re looking to make a difference on a much larger scale. We’ve been able to talk about this wider impact in the press, internally, throughout the community and our network of schools.
So the Awards enhanced engagement with the work of the Trust internally and externally?
Without a doubt. The Awards enhanced the profile of the Community and Education Trust. The Trust has always existed in the background, as a tool and platform to create a positive impact and deliver our community and education work.
The Princess Royal Training Awards helped us enhance and strengthen our purpose within the educational space, and were the reason for freeing up additional planning and investment to help us have an even greater and wider impact.
When you stand back and look at the impact you have had on your business and the local community, what do you consider is your proudest achievement?
Apart from the Princess Royal Training Awards?! It has to be the four apprentices who joined UKFast with me six years ago. I used to be a teacher and they followed me across when I made a career move to UKFast. They’re all still here, at the top of their game and running their own individual teams and departments, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps. I feel like a proud father to all four boys!
UKFast received a Princess Royal Training award for their Apprenticeship scheme in 2018. They hosted an alumni event in May 2019 and The Princess Royal visited their campus in Manchester to learn more about their award-winning initiatives firsthand.