From education to employment

Shining Examples of Entrepreneurship

David Grailey is chief executive of NCFE, the national awarding organisation

If there is one thing this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week has taught us, it is that there are thousands of budding business moguls out there just waiting for their business ideas to take off, and we must fully support our young enterprise students to put the wheels in motion for a successful future.

You would think the Dragon’s Den craze of the past few years would have rubbed off on the nation’s would-be start-ups by inspiring more of them to develop their own business opportunities. The show has spawned a plethora of catchphrases, but still very few actual entrepreneurs seem to have come forward with strong business ideas.

The figures are quite disheartening when you think about the number of creative and talented people who have made it to colleges and universities across the UK – it is claimed that currently only one in 20 people act on a business idea.

Last week gave people the perfect opportunity to get started or to grab some advice on taking the next step. Global Entrepreneurship Week was a hugely successful worldwide movement of entrepreneurial activity organised by Enterprise UK.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people attend  events across the UK, so there is clearly the demand and the interest, if not the know-how of what to do with an idea to see it come to fruition.

Of course, we are living in risky times and there’s little financial support for small companies. However, against a backdrop of widespread job losses and a massive public sector spending cut, the need for entrepreneurship is arguably greater than it ever was.

NCFE supports Global Entrepreneurship Week every year – it’s for those people who really want to take control of their lives, career and finances during the recession by starting up their own business. Whether they have spotted a gap in the market, have improved an existing product or service, or have developed a completely new invention, now is the time for people to take action and put the wheels in motion for a fruitful enterprise.

NCFE’s suite of Enterprise qualifications includes the Level 1 Award in Demonstrating Enterprise Skills, Level 1 Award in Exploring Enterprise Skills, Level 2 Award in Developing Enterprise Skills and the Level 2 Certificate in Developing Enterprise Skills.

We spent the week providing a showcase of shining examples of entrepreneurship, specifically within the FE sector. Amongst our centres and learners, there have been some stirring, inspirational and simply brilliant examples of how a touch of innovation can go a long way and achieve some excellent results.

Learners at the Canterbury Academy showcased their work in studying for an NCFE Level 2 Creative Craft qualification using cookery, in conjunction with the NCFE Level 2 Enterprise Qualifications to develop a sustainable cupcake business. Learners acquired skills in product development and retail planning, as well as learning how to actually market and sell the product to a relevant target customer. They also developed essential skills in team-working, which helps learners to deliver a first class customer service.

Another of our shining examples of entrepreneurial activity came from the Beverley School of Autism, who worked with Middlesbrough Football Club’s Enterprise Academy to enable six of its severely autistic students to gain a Level 1 Certificate in Exploring Enterprise Skills. These exceptional students highlight how anyone that has a strong enough idea and the know-how and enthusiasm can make it a success, and I hope that these examples of budding entrepreneurialism act as a catalyst for more young people to get involved in business.

Vocational learning and our Enterprise qualifications provide an inspiring basis for learners to do something they feel passionate about and enable them to develop the required knowledge, skills and drive to succeed in their chosen field of expertise.

Britain was founded on innovation and problem solving – rediscovering our tradition of entrepreneurial spirit could be one way of helping drag the UK out of recession.

David Grailey is the chief executive of NCFE, the qualification awarding body

Read other FE News articles by David Grailey:

Delivering what is right for learners in the face of major sector changes

Learning – it’s a personal thing

A transparent way forward for education

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