National Success at 'Young Thinker of the Year' Programme 2009
In October we told you about two members of the council’s ‘Generation BEST’ network, Ashley Innis and Dharmendra Singh, who were competing for the title of ‘Young Local Government Thinker of the Year’.
The Young Programme was established in 2002 and is part of a national initiative for developing talent in the workplace by fostering the personal and professional development of people in the early stages of their careers by improving communication skills – through both the written and spoken word.
Speaking in advance of their attendance, Cllr Alan Rudge, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources, said; “This event provides a great opportunity for Ashley and Dharmendra to develop as individuals; over the three days they will develop a range of verbal and written skills which will be beneficial to them in their current and future roles”.
Ashley and Dharmendra joined 24 other delegates from councils across the UK to take part in a number of activities including debates on current topical issues as well as group and individual presentations. They also heard moving testimonies from people who have been through life-changing experiences, including one speaker who was travelling in the same carriage as one of the 7/7 London bombers.
One of the two competitive elements of the course was the delivery of a pre-prepared six minute ‘argument paper’ where all delegates presented on a subject of their choice. Ashley’s paper was about ‘role models in society’ following the recent publication of a survey which claimed that 4 out of 5 children do not have a positive role model. Ashley argued about the impact that positive role models can have, particularly on young people as they are growing up.
Dharmendra’s paper was on ‘arranged marriages’. He examined some of the perceptions associated with arranged marriages as well as exploring the Western approach to relationships.
The second assessed element of the programme was the ‘On the Spot’ session where delegates had to ask themselves a question of spiritual, political, religious, ethical or personal significance to them and were given three minutes to answer it. This part of the course tested delegates’ ability to deliver a speech unscripted. The judges assessed using three criteria: originality of subject, fluency of expression and maturity of thought.
Ashley asked ‘What side of the room would I sit?’ using the analogy of a football changing room to describe his journey through life interacting with people from different racial and cultural backgrounds.
Dharmendra decided to be more light-hearted in this task, given his intense approach to the argument task, and asked himself 'Who is the better actor - Al Pacino or Robert De Niro?'.
At the awards ceremony for the event Ashley was announced as winner for the ‘On the Spot’ section of the programme. The judges, who commented that the quality in this section was ‘particularly high’, concluded that Ashley’s presentation “included a clever analogy” and he was able to “open a world in three minutes”. Judges were moved by his self-revelation.
Continuing a successful representation for Birmingham City Council, Dharmendra was announced as the overall ‘runner up’ for the event. Judges commented that Dharmendra’s argument was 'philosophical and accomplished in its use of language'. They singled out his phrase-making for being 'of a high standard' and were left in no doubt that his presentation skills were 'flawless' due to the 'exemplary mastery of the material'.
Upon hearing the news of the awards Councillor Rudge took time to personally congratulate both Ashley and Dharmendra for their performance and representation of Birmingham City Council.
To find out more about this competition or the council’s Generation BEST network, email GenerationBest via lotus notes or phone 675 1545.