SHOULD Sir Elton John or Dua Lipa turn on the Christmas lights?

That was the question facing school students taking part in a session designed to inspire them to pursue a career in data.

Pupils were also given practical tips on job-hunting when businesspeople volunteered their services at the Grange School and Twynham School in Christchurch.

The sessions were delivered to around 60 students who had been unable to arrange work experience placements in the wake of the pandemic.

The week began with a data workshop delivered virtually to around 60 students by the marketing consultancy CACI Ltd.

Students were split into 12 data teams and each student was asked whether they matched the persona of story teller, creative, problem solver, inventor or leader.

They were then presented with the business problem “Is it important who turns on the Christmas lights – Elton John or Dua Lipa?”.

Solving the problem involved using a data set, a PowerPoint and a how-to guide.

Sessions were devoted to brainstorming, solving the problem and creating a presentation to show their answer and make recommendations from the data.

Four of the teams were selected to present back to CACI in the afternoon.

Later in the week, eight volunteers from business worked with students in a CV workshop. The same day, 27 volunteers conducted 20-minute mock interviews with the students.

Rachel Keane, founder of the Data Inspiration Group, who organised the event, said: “The workshops were a great success and I am pleased to say working with a mix of local volunteers has highlighted the need for these students to gain physical work experience and they have offered some placements next year.”

The Grange School and Twynham School said: “We are hugely grateful to the employers who have given their time and expertise to support our students through this work experience week.

“Covid has made finding work experience placements more complex and, whilst the large majority of our students have successfully found an employer, these kinds of activities and employer engagement are crucial in supporting our students for their future.

“Most importantly though the work experience week organised at The Grange School (TGS) is yet another example of our joint work between Twynham School and TGS.

“By building capacity through our federation we have enabled events like this to take place, ensuring that all of our children across both schools in Christchurch have access to really fantastic experiences.”