An unmissable opportunity for schools

SELLING personalised memory sticks at wildly inflated prices with a group of entrepreneurial friends at school was my first taste of business. Hardly the next group of Richard Bransons.

Fortunately, it seems the latest clutch of Young Enterprise students across the Herald and Gazette patch are doing a far better job.

As you will see in the paper this week, students have been making, designing and selling their own products at various events – with one company even shipping in products from China – over the past year.

For those who have not heard about the scheme, Young Enterprise is a charity which goes into schools and helps groups of students set up their own businesses.

They produce business plans, decide what to sell and go out into the real world and put their ideas to the test.

A number of competitions are organised, where companies from across the region compete in various categories.

And in my own experience, it was an invaluable life lesson not just in attaining key business skills but learning life skills such as budgeting, communication and confidence.

So it disappoints me to learn that so few schools are missing out on this invaluable opportunity.

In Adur and Worthing, just four schools: Davison, Steyning Grammar, Lancing College and Sir Robert Woodard took part this year. I understand the level of uptake in Arun was similarly low.

The rest of the high schools in the area are missing out on an excellent extra-curricular opportunity and potentially failing to inspire scores of potential stars of the future.

Take the example of Davison’s Imogen de Vries, voted as young achiever of the year.

She told us about her business dreams but said anxiety issues were holding her back.

Now, with improved confidence, she has blossomed to become the star performer of her year. Remember the name.

What is holding schools back? Does Young Enterprise need to do more work to engage those who missed out this year? Perhaps the region’s big business figures should be encouraged to play a more active part in the excellent programme, too.

I urge all head teachers to get in touch with Young Enterprise by visiting www.young-enterprise.org.uk

Despite our questionable business plan and keenness to make a fast buck, my team, ‘Magnum Enterprises’, scooped a few awards at regional level, including best financial performance.

It was slightly ironic, however, that I was designated as ‘secretary’, or ‘scribe’, as I was more eloquently named by my fellow directors.

How little things change!

Oli Poole

Business reporter