Young Enterprise is looking for volunteer business mentors keen to support schools remotely with its new suite of digital YE employability programmes.

Commitment could be as little as supporting a one-off 30-minute employer engagement session via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, for instance, or providing further on-going commitment of one hour per week for three months to enable schools to benefit from its Gatsby-recommended programmes. Business sponsors are also sought for individual schools or a group of schools.

Students from Balcarras School were crowned Best Overall Company at the South West Young Enterprise Regional Final. The final (held digitally this year instead of in person due to the Covid-19 pandemic) celebrated the achievements of students who set up and ran a company over the academic year as part of the Young Enterprise Company Programme, supported nationally by HSBC UK.  The winning team Memento created and sold a block and card-based game that helps those with dementia to reminisce and reconnect with others through the stimulation of long-term memory.

Seven student companies from the South West competed across seven categories – Best Presentation, Innovation, Customer Service, Financial Management, Sustainability, Marketing and Teamwork – with a prize for each. The winning team, Memento from Balcarras School, represented the South West at the UK Company of the Year final, also held remotely.

This year, students across the country set up companies over the academic year, making all the decisions about their business, from deciding the company name and product, to creating a business plan, managing their finances and selling their products – despite challenging conditions due to Covid-19.

YE Area Manager Stephanie Anderson said: “We are particularly proud of all the students’ resilience this year as they continued with their YE learning journey and product development through an extremely difficult, emotional and potentially isolating time due to the school closures.”

The companies were judged by; Ben Lavery, Leonardo Helicopters, Graham White, Bonus Projects, Louise Wadsworth, Cherwell, Julie Hawker, South West Business Council and Sean Capstick, Lyreco.  The judges also awarded Best Presentation, Innovation, Customer Service, Financial Management, Sustainability, Marketing and Teamwork awards to students from St Mary’s Calne, St Peter’s School, Bournemouth and Devonport High School for Girls, Plymouth.

Phoenix, the YE company from Devonport High School for Girls, were crowned Devon’s Best Overall Company 2020 during ‘lockdown’. Thanks partly to the support they received from Volunteer Business Advisers, the judges found their recipe book ‘Footsteps of Food’ to be outstanding as in today’s climate giving the consumer a clear idea of the journey of the food we eat is of great importance. Besides having the best run business, the team’s clear branding and promotion also shone through. Biscup from Taunton School were crowned Somerset’s Best Overall Company for their great idea, planning and teamwork. Thanks also goes to the following YE Devon and Somerset Final sponsors: Plymouth University, Claims Consortium, The Range, Bishop Fleming and Wolferstans.

Young Enterprise is a national charity which works to equip young people with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to succeed in the changing world of work. Our Vision is that every young person is given an equal opportunity to learn the vital skills needed to earn and look after their money, to develop an enterprising mindset and to make a valuable contribution to their communities and wider society.  Research shows Company Programme participants develop key employability skills and a longitudinal study of Company Programme alumni has shown that in the two years following the programme, 94% are in education, employment or training [EET] – 5% higher than the national rate.

Sharon Davies, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise, said: “Reaching the Company Programme South West final represents an inspirational journey with many months of hard work, teamwork, creativity and resilience; congratulations Memento.  The experience and skills students from every team will have developed will stay with them for many years to come and will make a tangible difference to their futures.”

Anyone interested in helping can contact YE Area Manager Stephanie Anderson: [email protected] or 07903029554

Pictured: Devon’s winners Phoenix

SW winners Memento