In this school year, 2017/2018, Young Enterprise Northern Ireland had the privilege of engaging with 87,879 students, working with 351 schools and achieving wonderful support from over 900 business volunteers. Was your child’s school involved?

Banbridge Academy‘s ‘Poppin’ were awarded the prestigious accolade of Young Enterprise’s Company of the Year at the NI final in June 2018.

Representing Northern Ireland at the UK final in London was shared education team ‘Mindsight’, a collaboration between Belfast Boys’ Model and Mercy College, Belfast. The charity was delighted when they wonthe National Enterprise Award for ‘Partnerships and Innovation’.

Young Enterprise Northern Ireland also had the great pleasure of sending entrepreneurs of the future Joel White and Rosie Alexander, to the Next Generation Leaders Forum in Canada this summer to collaborate and network with global peers. A trip of a lifetime!

It’s been a busy year and it’s set to get busier with more schools getting involved. According to Young Enterprise NI Chief Executive, Carol Fitzsimons MBE, the ethos of Young Enterprise and its emphasis on business education amongst young people is more relevant than ever before.

Carol told this magazine; “Given the rapid pace of change in the global economy, the need for business and enterprise has never been greater. It is vital that we establish a more entrepreneurial workforce that is able to make and take opportunities; individuals empowered to take control of their own futures. In order to best equip the next generation of leaders and innovators, this all starts in our schools.”

Young Enterprise Company Programme is the charity’s flagship entrepreneurship programme with over 1,000 students participating between the ages of 15 to 18 years. The programme gives students firsthand experience of setting up and running a real business within the school environment. This involves devising a product concept, development of the actual product, creating a business plan, raising capital and the marketing/management of all major business functions. It is a comprehensive business experience supported by Northern Ireland business leaders who are on hand to mentor the students.

Carol continued; “Our goal is to provide every young person in Northern Ireland with the opportunity to develop and explore their entrepreneurial, enterprise and employment skills.  All Young Enterprise programmes complement the educational curriculum, offering young people, irrespective of their background and abilities, the opportunity to participate in our programmes. A study of EY Company Programme alumni has shown that in the two years following their company’s closure, 94 per cent are in education, employment or training [EET] – seven per cent higher than the national rate.

Young Enterprise are proud of our achievements and the positive impact participation has on our young people, but don’t just take our word for it, here’s a parent’s perspective from one of our student’s mums…”

“There are a number of key learning points which Rachel took away from the Young Enterprise experience and the best way I can capture these are by describing them as core life skills. These included learning how to work as part of a team, how to budget, how to plan and schedule tasks and how to deal with any potential disagreements in the team.

“She was challenged to learn quickly though; there were late night Skype calls, impromptu meetings, planning for trade exhibitions etc. She discovered skills that she never knew she had, one of which was an ability to lead and motivate others. This came to light when she was voted as CEO, a role which involved making decisions and giving guidance, all without the need for support from an adult.

“It was a real turning point for her, and one she still references regularly. The life skills she developed were invaluable going forward. Firstly, when she moved to Glasgow to study her business degree at the University of Glasgow, and secondly when she moved to Dublin to take up a role in an American Trading company.

“I am exceptionally proud of Rachel; her fierce determination and her belief that their team would solve any issue that arose, also spurred me on occasionally!  She loved the thrill of competing, and was delighted when she achieved the Young Enterprise Best Newcomer Award. The participation in the programme also allowed her to make the link between her Business Studies A Level and the real world.

“The support she received from the teachers at Lagan College was fantastic, offering flexibility and opportunity to Rachel. This practical and realistic approach to learning really helped Rachel’s confidence soar, which resulted in a first place award in the UK from CCEA for her A Level Business Studies. Thank you Young Enterprise for all that you do!”

The Young Enterprise Company Programme runs every year in schools across Northern Ireland, allowing students to develop their entrepreneurial skills whilst connecting with local businesses. If you would like to find out more about how your child’s school can get involved or how to become a business volunteer with Young Enterprise contact or Tel:  028 9032 7003.

Nadia Duncan

Author: Nadia Duncan

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