22 May 2024

Young entrepreneurs’ innovative idea pays off

by Tim Nuttall

A team of budding young entrepreneurs have secured a place in the final of a national competition after impressing judges with their idea for a socially inclusive shopping centre during a school careers and enterprise contest.

Delivered by the Inspirational Learning Group, in partnership with NatWest Thrive, the National Careers Challenge is an award-winning contest that presents students with real-life business challenges to help them develop the skills needed to make informed decisions about their futures.

In a recent visit to Withernsea High School, the challenge was set for students in year nine
to develop a business idea inspired by the needs of people in their own locality. The winning team, Safe Space, impressed the judging panel with their idea to create a shopping and social experience centre that would provide a safe space for young, disabled and vulnerable members of the community to socialise, and access shops and food outlets in confidence.

Taking into consideration disability access requirements, and building confidence among prospective users, attention was given to the need for a team of support workers who would be on hand to help assist the venue’s users. Team members were also tasked with considering how their new business could be promoted, and how it could be scaled up in the future – both from a promotional and a financial point of view.

School careers leader Viki Foster said: “We would like to congratulate our students for creating such a unique and wonderful business concept. The presenters and judges were all incredibly impressed with their idea and felt that it had real potential to be a successful business. We look forward to seeing them develop their idea further in preparation for their pitch at the national final in July.

“Throughout the day, our year nine students put forward some fantastic business ideas – impressing our visitors with their creativity. They should all be incredibly proud of themselves.”

Ben Worth, workshop facilitator with the Inspirational Learning Group, said: “We had a brilliant day at Withernsea High School. The young people were fantastic, with a huge range of business ideas that looked at adding exciting and innovative businesses to the local area. All teams gave their all to the day and we can’t wait to see the winning team, Safe Space, in action at the national final of our careers challenge.”

Now in its 12th year, the National Careers Challenge has positively influenced more than half a million young people in schools across the UK. It is the UK’s largest careers and enterprise competition and enables young people to develop crucial skills through the completion of real-life business challenges set by leading employers including Air Products, AtkinsRéalis and JCB.

Ben Dyer, co-founder of the Inspirational Learning Group and the National Careers Challenge, said: “Although we believe strongly
in the competitive element, the challenge is not just about winning – it is about harnessing skills not easily taught in the classroom and providing students with meaningful employer encounters and better equipping them for the world of work.

“This year’s final promises to be an event not to be missed and we are so excited to watch the students’ pitches and to ultimately crown the 2024 champions.”

Through the delivery of effective careers guidance, the Inspirational Learning Group aims to help bridge the growing global skills gap by providing opportunities for young people to develop the “soft skills” of teamwork, problem- solving, communication, time management and adaptability, in a practical context.

Working in partnership with NatWest Thrive, the banking group’s financial well-being and life readiness programme for young people aged eight to 24, the group is committed to helping young entrepreneurs build businesses in their local communities, and developing the skills they will need for starting businesses in the future.

Each task set within the National Careers Challenge is tailored for a specific year group and designed in response to its industry sponsors’ real-life, business-critical needs. For students in year seven, a hydrogen challenge sponsored by industrial gas supplier Air Products tasks participants with the development of a promotional campaign to encourage a local transport firm to adapt their vehicles to hydrogen fuel. Meanwhile, in a challenge set by heavy equipment manufacturer JCB, year eight students are tasked with designing “a machine of the future” to fix a problem identified within a chosen sector.

The year nine challenge, as completed at Withernsea High, is sponsored by NatWest itself under the banner “start local, think global”, while year 10 students are sponsored by AtkinsRéalis – a world-leading design, engineering and project management organisation – to create a School of the Future focused on sustainability and community support.

Meanwhile, Withernsea’s winning team will shortly begin preparing for their appearance at the competition’s national final at Doncaster Racecourse on Tuesday, July 9.