From education to employment

Sopra Steria and Villiers Park partner to support young people into aspirational careers

An innovative partnership between leading social mobility charity, Villiers Park Educational Trust, and purpose-led digital transformation expert, Sopra Steria, is helping more than 400 under-represented young people break through barriers and fulfil their potential. 

The two organisations have joined forces via the charity’s flagship Future Leaders Programme, which supports young people from areas with low participation in higher education, and typically high levels of deprivation, to develop the skills they need to thrive at university and in employment. 

As part of the partnership, Sopra Steria is supporting young people from Hastings & Bexhill, Norwich, Swindon and Tyneside through office visits, digital skills workshops and employability masterclasses. 

The organisations have also worked together to develop the Sopra Steria Opportunities Fund, which has so far enabled over 200 students to apply for funding towards services or materials that directly benefit their aspirations.  The fund enables students to follow their ambitions and has supported a variety of requests, including tutoring, revision materials, academic subscriptions, university open day trips and many more.  

One of the those being supported through the partnership is 17-year-old Clara from Hastings, a talented performance artist, singer and songwriter who is keen to pursue her academic interests in Philosophy and English. Clara has valued the experience as a Future Leader, which has supported her ambition of studying at the University of Cambridge. Clara explained:

“If I ever see an opportunity I’d like to go for, I can always talk to my mentor and get their advice. The [Future Leaders] programme bridges the gap between coaching and attainment and helps us be at the same opportunity level as students from more affluent backgrounds. 

“Being part of the programme has opened up so many doors and opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to find on my own. For example, the upcoming work experience at the House of Commons in July, and it’s so special they can provide this for us.”

“It’s been a real highlight to visit Sopra Steria’s London office to reflect on how a modern workplace can look. It debunked the myth of the office environment feeling confined and highlighted how you can be at your best in the workplace.”

Maria Healy, Corporate Partnerships Manager at Villiers Park, said:

“Our partnership with Sopra Steria has enabled us to create new projects together, that genuinely empower the young people we work with. By hosting students at their offices and developing the Opportunities Fund together, we can enable our students to experience a wider variety of opportunities that may help them to realise their own ambitions for the future. I’m delighted that we have upscaled our partnership in our second year to deliver such support to our 400 Future Leaders, and to over 200 students with individual experiences.”

Adrian Fieldhouse, Managing Director of Government & Transport at Sopra Steria, said: 

“We are delighted to be able to work with Villiers Park to support bright and determined young people who simply need some practical support to reach their potential. Widening participation is not just a tick-box exercise for Sopra Steria, and through partnerships like this we hope to help more young people see beyond the limits of what they thought they could achieve.

“Visiting multiple universities or buying clothes for an interview is something many people take for granted. For others, it’s simply unaffordable. By introducing the new Opportunities Fund we hope to give these Future Leaders the same experiences as many of their peers, helping them make informed choices about their future.”

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