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Naa Biggart from the Performance Above And Beyond Institute discusses the importance of skills development & higher education and the impact it has on young peoples’ lives

Higher education can have an enormous impact on the life of a young person. Naa Biggart from the Performance Above And Beyond Institute, (simply called the P.A.A.B Institute) is creating a programme for teens and their parents from Sub Saharan Africa to guide them in making career and higher education choices that will benefit their futures.

The programme focuses on a holistic, multidimensional approach that encourages children to embrace their natural talents and grow the skills necessary to be prepared for higher education and the work force as well as providing them with deeper insights into higher education and the labour market outlook

Hi Naa, can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

I live in the U.K., passionate about self-improvement and I love to learn.  In fact, I am a lifelong learner. My hobbies are mentoring school age children, reading factual and self-improvement books, watching documentaries, and I love to travel to unusual places.  I am also a business author.

My background is in business consulting, performance coaching and strategic planning & value management.

What inspired you to develop the Performance Above And Beyond Institute?

I have always been passionate about self-improvement, whether it’s for children or adults, and in fact wrote a book about career choices for secondary school students.  I also have a background in performance coaching. I have had the opportunity to do some voluntary mentoring work in secondary schools in the U.K. Seeing the enthusiasm of the children and the impact it had on some of the students led me to do what I enjoy doing best – helping others make better lives for themselves, especially children.

Where do you operate?

We are based in the U.K., but our services will be privately delivered remotely to secondary school students and their parents in English Speaking countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, with eventual small office in Accra, Ghana.

We made the decision to offer our services in this region for two reasons. Firstly, we strongly believe that the children in Africa need us more than those in the U.K. and secondly some of our team members who are of African descent wanted to give these children and their parents the insights and support they wished someone had given them 20, 30, 40 years ago, which could have opened up many more opportunities and made huge differences to their lives.

Who is the Institute for?

The institute is for teenage secondary school students between the ages of 16 and 19 years old and their parents, but it is not limited to this age group. Young adults who are out of secondary school and trying to find their paths to fulfilling and financially rewarding jobs will also benefit from our services.

What are the main aims of the Institute?

We are a small team of specialists (performance coaching, career planning, social work, researchers, publishers), passionate about what we do and who work together to deliver deeper insights into self-awareness, higher/alternative education and labour market outlook to secondary school teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 years old and their parents in Sub Sahara African countries.  Our focus is on 1. Exploring the life possibilities of our members and nurturing their potential for a sustained higher achievement 2. bolstering their understanding of their chosen subjects and related career paths 3. priming them for sustained positive experiences at higher education, and for fulfilling and financially rewarding careers in the future.

What does developing the skills and making the choices to pursue education mean for the kids that you work with?  Why is higher education so important?

Higher education offers graduates more job opportunities to choose from than what is offered to those who do not pursue education beyond secondary school. Graduates typically earn more than non graduates.  Higher education also improves an individual’s quality of life and theoretically, will enable these children to expand their knowledge and skills, express their thoughts clearly in speech and in writing, grasp abstract concepts and theories, and increase their understanding of the world and the industries they choose to work in.

With regards to personal benefits, career benefits and financial benefits, there are careers that require a specific higher education qualification. Holding a higher education qualification can also open doors to many other career options, some of which may be indirectly related to the subject studied.

This is because employers recognise the dedication required to study for these qualifications, and the transferrable skills they equip graduates with. It is predicted that by 2022 half of all jobs will require applicants to have a higher educational qualification of some kind.  It is also true that throughout the student’s study period, they will have the opportunity to network with professionals in that field and gain useful placements and work experience therefore giving them a range of experiences to draw upon in interviews for employment.

When it comes to personal benefits, studying at university or college can help make young people more independent, as they learn to manage their lives, not to mention the social aspect of higher education which is also of benefit to students, as they meet likeminded people and form new friendships.

Universities and colleges also offer an array of extra-curricular activities for their students to get involved in, which is a great way to further an existing interest or try something new in addition to meeting new people.

Moving on to financial benefits – In addition to having a greater range of jobs available to them, graduates also attract higher salaries throughout their working life, and students undertaking apprenticeships can begin earning whilst they study with wages varying depending on the age of the apprentice, the length of time they have been studying and the company they are employed by.

Can you tell us about the 2 membership options available?

Our Services – Small steps towards big goals.

Significant improvements in performance are the result of small steps and right decisions. We help our members create a personalised plan, breaking down their goals into small steps towards sustainable change. Our highly experienced specialists guide, inspire and motivate our members to reach their goals, whilst their progress is monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved.

Our services vary from subscription only to highly tailored programmes. As your trusted partner, we help you and your children understand how all the elements in their lives now and in the future (higher education and workplace environment) interact so that they can enjoy improved performance and future success.

EXPLORE.BOLSTER.PRIME (EBP) MEMBERSHIP

This is a holistic, multidimensional, typically 24-month remote programme. It is to enhance and not to overwhelm and is strategically delivered at the right stages of the children’s membership, and in the right doses.

Our members will have tailored programmes with quarterly updates, monitoring and support. Together we will define the children’s priorities and actions for their journey. The programme is delivered in quarterly sprints covering all aspects of skills, preferences, interests, careers, higher/alternative education and labour market expectations and outlook. Our monthly podcasts provide deeper insights and motivation along their journey.

This programme is suitable for those looking for tailored services for their children.

SUBSCRIPTION ONLY MEMBERSHIP

This membership equips our members with greater insight (current and future) into higher and alternative education, skills expectations, and careers options. We help them make the right choices towards achieving sustainable and fulfilling university and work life as well as achieving their long-term goals.

It helps our members gain clarity to define their targets, set actions, and get up to speed with the dynamics of global higher education and the world of work. This programme is suitable for those looking for hands off support and good, reliable information during their last three years before higher education.  Duration: open-ended rolling membership. Delivery: Remote delivered via quarterly reports and podcasts.

What role do you think parents play in helping their kids achieve these goals?

Parents play a huge role in helping their children achieve these goals. Every parent wants to see their children happy, and those with high aspirations for their children’s future are motivated and committed to helping their children achieve these goals. They go the extra mile in helping them map robust paths that will lead to fulfilment and happiness in adulthood.

Their role may involve being aware of and understanding their children’s strengths and weaknesses, preferences, interests, skill sets and potential. They can help their children achieve through a host of ways – helping them choose their majors for higher education, helping them acquire the right skills for higher education and workplace, and seeking help for their children when needed. Parents can encourage and motivate their kids to perform as well as equipping them with the right tools for the future.

When does the programme start? How can people sign up?

Parents can register their interest online at  www.performanceaboveandbeyond.institute  from 1st of March 2021 via our online registration portal.  We also have a chat facility where they will have the opportunity to make enquiries.

The programme becomes operational on the 1st of May 2021, but membership registration starts on the 1st of March for both our tier 1 and 2 memberships.

So, tell me a little about Performance Above And Beyond Institute?  The P.A.A.B Institute as simply known.  What do you exactly do?  I know you are not tutoring but you are involved in a very vital part of education without the slightest doubt, and specifically for teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19.

Our main aim is to explore our members potential, provide them with pertinent insight to help them make informed decision for their future, guide and motivate them and finally prime them for a successful future.

We have a uniquely proprietary, holistic and multi dimensional approach to exploring the potential of this age group, bolstering the understanding of their chosen subjects and related industries that include interconnected career paths, as well as priming them to stand above their peers and therefore creating much better chances for future opportunities.

We consider the entirety of skills, attributes, preferences, expectations, higher education and industry requirements, options, labour market outlook, traditional and alternative career paths in this process.

We look at our service in its totality – an all-inclusive approach that challenges but does not overwhelm, that motivates, nurtures. We hope to strike a fine balance by carefully and strategically assessing, providing relevant information and accessing at the right stages of the teen’s membership and in the right doses. This allows us to move our members closer to their desired goals and bridges the gap between their skill set and industry expectations.  We are all about short and long-term holistic strategies that will make huge differences in our members lives and create a lifetime value financially, in terms of career satisfaction, and emotionally.

Our roles are really, all encompassing and involved – a network of specialist (career advisors, performance coaches, researchers, and publishers) working together to bring about the desired results for our members.

The process is quite involved, with extensive leg work, one to one phone interviews, primary and secondary research, and engagement with other stakeholders in order to deliver services beyond our members’ expectations.

This is a vital service you are providing here. What made you decide to go into this field?  How did it all happen? I also know you do not mass market your services – all by word of mouth and through a network of parents.  Is it just for the chosen few?

My answer to your last question is, no, not for the chosen few, but certain criteria for membership must be met.  Moving on to your first question, myself, and a colleague of mine have been quietly and under no banner, doing this on voluntary basis in a few secondary schools in the U.K.  and, amongst a network of families. We found it extremely rewarding seeing the progress and improvements it made in children’s skill sets, perception of the world of work as well as the impetus in their efforts to “reach for the skies”, so to speak.

Of course, word went round, and we realised how valuable our contribution is to the children and their families.  That is the birth of “Performance Above And Beyond Institute” – an apt name for both our members and the P.A.A.B Institute.

Now, these are other glaring reasons for why we do what we do – global Gallup poll of 1 billion shows 85% of people hate their jobs – and here are some of the top reasons given: poor work life balance, underpaid, overwhelmed, bored, don’t fit in, long working hours, lack of passion, employer expects too much.  And one major reason why millennials hate their jobs is because they have unrealistic expectations of real work life situations.

One of our favourite sayings is “forewarned is forearmed”.  We endeavour to provide our members with tools that prepare them for the future.  If they have the right education and skills and the right work environment this will create a state of mind that makes them happy and motivates them to reach higher levels of success.

What brings you to Sub-Saharan Africa, and why expand to this region in particular?  Why now?  Why not continue in the U.K.?

The answer to your last question is, as I said earlier, the teens and their parents in Sub-Saharan Africa need us more.  Part of our team of experts are of African decent and we are keen to give the younger generation the insight and support we wished we would have been given twenty, thirty years ago to help us compete confidently and comfortably in the global higher education and labour market.

Just to clarify, we are currently opening our membership to only 9 countries in West Africa and two countries in East Africa (Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa).

Times are tough and competition is fierce on the higher education and the labour market front, so there is no place for complacency and mediocrity.  Things are moving at a faster pace than ever and expectations in higher education and in industries are higher than ever, whilst there is a huge mismatch of skills expectations between industry and teenagers.  Making the right choices both in higher education and in the world of work can be very daunting for teenagers and their parents to navigate without expert support, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where help is limited.

Obviously for such a vital service, there is going to be a huge demand, and with the numbers of your Explore, Bolster & Prime membership capped, how are you going to manage the expectations of a disappointed parent who cannot get their child into the programme?

That is something we have thought long and hard about.  We are passionate about what we do and wish we could offer this service to every parent and child that shows interest, but we have had to put a cap on our EBP membership numbers for particularly good reasons which hopefully parents will understand.

Putting the service together and delivering requires a lot of time, leg work, effort, and cost, and for our team to be able to give our best and over deliver to every one of our EBP members, we made a difficult decision to limit the numbers and work with parents who are genuinely committed to the well being of their children, are motivated to work with us and have real aspirations for their kids. The good news is that there are other ways we can help those who could not get on to the EBP membership.   Parents can opt to be on a waiting list or register their interest a year in advance or be a Subscription Only member.  Not all children will need the tailored services.

The good news is, there is a standard membership subscription that delivers real value to every parent and child that can be taken.  To clarify, this membership does not come with personal service, but is jam-packed with value all the same.

My last question.  So, what makes your institute so special?  Why do you think parents should choose you over others providing the same services?

I can proudly and confidently say that we are one of a kind.  The amount of passion, man hours, dedication and commitment we put into our work shine through each time.  We provide a truly holistic, multi dimensional service that no one, so far as we are aware, is providing and our network of families are thrilled with the exclusive service they receive from us.  That is what makes us tick, and that is what we do best.

Naa thank you for your time!
You can contact
Naa Biggart at: www.performanceaboveandbeyond.institute  from the 1st of March 2021.

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