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On the week Lord Sugar returned to our screens, young people from Peterborough took part in an Apprentice-style training programme to give them an insight into running their own company. Organised by Mad Ants Enterprise in partnership with the Peterborough Skills Service, the ‘Antprentice: You’re In Business’ event gave students the opportunity to learn vital employability skills.
The first group of participating students, who were nominated by their schools as budding entrepreneurs, were tasked with designing a new polo shirt for Mad Ants Equestrian range which involved taking an initial design concept right through to production. They took part in a series of morning workshops surrounding sales, marketing, and pricing at City College Peterborough, before 'pitching' their business concept and design to a panel of business and retail experts. During the afternoon the students set up their business in Peterborough city centre to ask potential customers for feedback on their product.
Kelly Lickley, co-founder of Mad Ants, said: “This is a really exciting venture. We designed a programme to give young people genuine experience of the business world and one that will nurture, grow and inspire them to think about their future career prospects, or to take the plunge and run their own business.”
Neil Darwin, director of economic development at Opportunity Peterborough, the organisation leading the Peterborough Skills Service, said: “Projects like ‘Antprentice: You’re In Business’ continue our work to strengthen the links between city employers and our young people. By equipping students with the skills they need to enter the workplace, we’re helping them to be more employable.”
Already, 300 pupils in Peterborough are due to take part in the ‘Antprentice: You're In Business’ 12-week business skills programme which begins in April. It will be run by Mad Ants Enterprise throughout various schools and colleges in the city with support from the Peterborough Skills Service.
When complete, the most promising young entrepreneurs may be asked to become ambassadors as the ‘Antprentice: You’re in Business’ project it is rolled out across schools in Peterborough and the rest of the country.
All candidates taking part in the programme will also have the opportunity to earn recognised business qualifications – a Level 1 Award in Exploring Enterprise and a Level 2 Award in Demonstrating Enterprise from NCFE, a national awarding organisation.
Councillor John Holdich, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and University, said: Local businesses were previously telling us that they had concerns that young people weren’t ready for work and didn’t have the skills needed to flourish in the workplace. Now we have the Peterborough Skills Service and events like ‘Antprentice: You’re In Business’ to give youngsters the experience and skills needed to be successful.”
A number of teams from across Peterborough have been recruited but there’s still time for more schools and colleges to register a team of their young people. We’d also welcome support from local businesses that are willing to offer mentoring support to the Mad Ants teams, shadowing their journey and offering advice, and we’d like to be able to offer all participants internships to enable them to put their new skills into practice.