Praise for teens’ business skills at Kirklees College

Youth unemployment is undoubtedly a cause for concern across the UK, with over one million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 out of work. However, students at Kirklees College, West Yorkshire, are learning the skills to buck the trend.

112 students took part in an intense day-long employability competition, where ‘The Apprentice’ met ‘Dragons’ Den’!

The event, held at Galpharm Stadium, put the students through their paces as they were divided into teams and told to create, develop and finally pitch their product or service to the “dragons” – 17 local and national employers supporting the event.

Throughout the day, the learners had the opportunity to hold meetings with the business experts and pick their brains on product, promotion, tactics and budgets. These short interventions with sector experts provided students with the content to complete a workbook and achieve the NCFE Level 1 Award in Employability Skills.

The event was organised by The Working Knowledge Group, a social enterprise which aims to open the eyes of business to young, local talent.

Rachel Shute, Business Development Manager for Working Knowledge commented, “Our events help young people develop the soft-skills required by employers in a practical and highly engaging way.

“But perhaps more importantly, the events open the eyes of local business to how young talent within FE and SFC could help them grow their business. As a result opportunities such as jobs, apprenticeships, work experience and curriculum support that simply did not exist before are now being offered and made readily available.

Awad Bhenick, one of the event facilitators and Managing Director of his own Design and Media Agency, started off as a learner participating at one of these events, which led as a great example to the students as to what can be achieved.”

Kate Cooper-Fay, Director of RWA Ltd, a global interim and consultancy business, was one of the business experts on hand at the event. She said: “It was a pleasure to be part of something so rewarding and exciting and watch the students’ confidence grow throughout the course of the day.

“With very limited preparation time, the learners really pushed the boundaries and came up with some great ideas – one team had such a good idea that I would very much like to help them take it to market.”

Nikki Davis, Head of Business and Professional Studies, Kirklees College, said: “We were very proud of the way the students dealt with what was thrown at them. For the students, it’s a very different atmosphere to being at college. The business experts are there to inspire rather than to teach and address them as prospective employees.

“At the college, we think it’s really important to integrate employability into the core curriculum – we want to prepare our learners for the workplace and break down the barriers between education and employment.”

Michael Vaughan, Business Development Officer, NCFE, added: “It’s fantastic to see the learners so motivated and engaged. It’s great that students can ‘consume’ learning in small chunks and then have the opportunity to apply it immediately in a practical way.

“At NCFE, we’re committed to finding solutions that address the problem of youth unemployment. These events improve learners’ prospects, develop their communications, team work and problem solving skills and also allow them to achieve useful qualifications like the NCFE Employability Award.”

At the end of the event, four winning teams were presented with £60 prize money each. There were also individual awards for shining stars that particularly impressed the employers. As a result of the event, some learners made key business connections and found work placement opportunities.

Paul Champion

📱: 07540 704920

Twitter: @blogapprentice
Skype: paulchampion31

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