Leeds City Region’s Enterprise Adviser Network saw staff from professional services firm Grant Thornton back in the classroom helping to encourage the entrepreneurs of the future.
Fifteen staff from the company’s Leeds office spent a day at Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School running workshops for more than 120 Year 7 pupils.
During the day the Year 7 pupils had to pitch a micro-business idea to a panel from Grant Thornton, with the winning team given a £50 seed-fund to launch their business and any profits being invested in an entrepreneur in the developing world. The winners, Tote-ally Awesome, were a group who made customised canvas bags as a way of reducing plastic bag use.
Richelle Schuster, Enterprise Adviser at Cardinal Heenan and an Associate Director at Grant Thornton, said:
“Encouraging young people to be entrepreneurs is not just a job for teachers and parents, employers can really add value too by working together and helping to influence and shape young people’s experiences. By doing this we are assisting young people to build the skills needed for a vibrant economy in the future.
“Working as an Enterprise Adviser is a very worthwhile way to help teachers navigate different career paths and break down preconceptions of what it means to run or work within a business and who can do it.
“The future world of work will look very different to the one we see now and, as an employer and mother, I feel a responsibility to play a role in equipping children to be successful in business and to do that requires a range of skills including creativity, collaboration, communication, empathy which goes beyond the subject silos.
“We were really impressed by the students’ hard work, ingenuity and motivation. We also liked that they could see that business is not just about profit, but also about having a purpose and a positive impact on your community locally and globally.”
One of the Grant Thornton team, Audit Associate Lizzie Fussey, added:
“As a team who started a long way out of our comfort zone, we left feeling inspired by both the students and their incredible teachers, taking away some valuable lessons that we’ll go on to apply to our professional lives. Students supported each other as a team, encouraging one another to step out of their comfort zones in order to talk about their passions, and seeing their confidence grow as the day went on was an absolute privilege.
“In summary, I cannot recommend spending a day with an 11 year old (or 30 of them if you’re feeling brave) highly enough. They have refreshed my motivation to approach work with consideration for our planet and the people on it, and restored my faith that our future is safe in the hands of these young people.”
Rosie Evans, Achievement Champion at Cardinal Heenan, said:
“Working with companies like Grant Thornton is invaluable for schools. The Enterprise Adviser scheme has enabled our Year 7 students to develop a number of critical skills essential for the workplace and the encouragement to progress with their education.”
The LEP’s Enterprise Adviser Network, working in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, has been running since 2015 and sees senior business leaders link up with schools to develop careers and enterprise plans that embed entrepreneurial skills in the classroom to inspire pupils. Enterprise Advisers are now working with over 160 schools across Leeds City Region, with 32,000 new activities delivered to students last year.