From education to employment

Peter Jones Enterprise Academy – The Edge Challenge

Over the past decade Edge has championed the importance and benefits of high quality technical, practical and vocational education and training, seeking a closer alignment between education and the skill needs of the UK economy.

Edge encourages innovation in education by supporting the creation of new institutions that promote profound employer engagement and address areas of skills shortages for the UK economy. In addition Edge champions projects that will support the effective dissemination of best practice in vocational education and training and have the ability to support further development or replication. All the projects in the series have the potential to become beacons of excellence and exemplars of what can be achieved.

This year we ran our third Edge Challenge – an enterprise competition for young people who are studying or have studied a course of technical, practical or vocational learning. The competition is run in partnership with the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and the Gazelle Colleges Group.

The final was held in November at The Skills Show.

Last year’s winner, David Humpston, gives us his take on the competition. David’s Q&A is followed by Graeme Tidd’s, National Business Enterprise Manager at the Peter Jones Foundation.

David Humpston – Edge Challenge 2014 Winner and Director of Viewpoint Videos

Why did you enter the Edge Challenge?

I entered the Edge Challenge because it would provide me with the opportunity to present my business concept to successful entrepreneurs and investors and the feedback from them was really useful. The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy also recommended that I should enter the Edge Challenge after winning their National Entrepreneur of the Year award.

What did you hope to gain from entering?

Along with the chance to present to investors at the pitch, the final culminated in speaking to a large crowd at the NEC, a great public speaking experience. The seed-funding prize for 1st place was £3,000 in cash which, if I won it, would really help move the business forward. Luckily I won and the cash prize helped towards equipment and software development.

Why is it so important for competitions like the Edge Challenge to be available to young people?

I strongly believe that the best time to get started in entrepreneurship is from a young age. Younger people also tend to have lower costs of living than when they are older with a mortgage or children etc. If a high-risk business isn’t successful, young entrepreneurs may not have as much to lose, which reduces the fear of failure. However, external funding is normally still a requirement to launch any business, and that’s where the Edge Challenge helps. Without the Edge Challenge, there would be less opportunity for young people to start ventures.

What have been the greatest challenges for you in business?

Initially, the greatest challenge was to be viewed in the right way by potential clients. When starting a small business, others can often see it as a ‘hobby’ or ‘project’ rather than a physical business with a team of people that can deliver valuable products/services. This isn’t as much of a challenge now that we have had success with clients and started building a team but at the beginning you have to prove yourself and the concept.

What has been your biggest achievement since winning the Edge Challenge?

Partnering with new clients and building a small team. Since winning the Edge Challenge, Viewpoint has partnered with Capital Karts, the longest kart track in the UK. We are now discussing partnerships with more venues and employing more people!

What advice would you give to young people who are thinking of starting up as an entrepreneur?

Have a go. If you have an idea for a product or service that could be useful for people, ask them if they would benefit from it and what they would pay for it. Find out what it would cost to produce. The next step is to create a prototype or sample and test it out by selling or pitching. Seek feedback on how to improve your product/service and keep going. Once up and running with proof of concept and evidence of what you can provide, I think it becomes easier.

Graeme Tidd – National Business Enterprise Manager, The Peter Jones Foundation

What are you doing that is different and innovative?

We run a number of ground-breaking enterprise-based programmes for schools and colleges:

FE – The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy set out to be a catalyst for cultural change by bringing the boardroom into the classroom. The Academy aims to equip future generations of entrepreneurs with the skills and mind-set to run their own businesses, thereby supporting the future of the British economy.

Primary and Secondary – The Peter Jones Enterprise School Award is a brand new initiative, designed to recognise and nurture enterprising culture in schools. It has been set up to support students and teachers in the development of entrepreneurship and enterprise skills, by providing the opportunity for students to run their own Peter Jones Enterprise Club at school.

Tycoon in Schools – Launched by the Foundation in July 2012, Tycoon in Schools is a free national enterprise competition, which aims to encourage the nation’s budding entrepreneurs to get involved in business by giving them a start-up loan to run a business at school.

What is the role of a Business Enterprise Manager?

I assist in developing and delivering a high quality experience for all colleges, schools and learners across the Peter Jones Foundation’s key areas of work: the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, the Peter Jones Enterprise School Award and Tycoon in Schools. This involves supporting learners and staff, and developing engaging opportunities within our programmes through working alongside local and national businesses.

Why is it important to promote entrepreneurial skills to young people?

Enterprise opens young minds to possibilities beyond conventional progression routes and raises aspirations. By developing enterprising skills and qualities, young people develop a wide range of skills, applying themselves through meaningful experiences also valued by employers. Enterprise therefore assists in young people becoming ready for employment, and builds a platform on which self-employment can be achieved.

Through Enterprise, young people are empowered to utilise their potential in a way meaningful to them. This aids independent thinking and encourages self-development.

Enterprise exposes young people to new possibilities and new opportunities within which they can influence and control their own path.

Why do you promote the Edge Challenge to your students?

The Edge Challenge encourages young people to reach further, to condense their knowledge and look further ahead. The Challenge is an excellent opportunity for students to gain both recognition for their achievements but also to gain vital funding to allow faster progression in their business ventures.

What do you think students get out of competitions like this?

Students enjoy being challenged. Being able to appraise their business ventures is a process that they value, and the thrill of participating in a significant national challenge is particularly appealing.

Find out more about the Edge Challenge here.

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