Indie Oxford Interview: Young Enterprise

 In Indie Oxford Interviews

Today we chat to Cassandra Cardiff, the Young Enterprise Area Manager for Oxfordshire, about the charity, how it benefits the local economy, and how they love to work with independent business owners to share their knowledge and skills with the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Tell us about Young Enterprise and how the charity helps young people in Oxfordshire.

Young Enterprise is a national charity. We make the connection between school and the world of work, enabling young people to develop the knowledge and attitudes they need to succeed. We focus on 8 key skills: communication, confidence, financial capability, initiative, organisation, problem-solving, teamwork and resilience.

In Oxfordshire alone, we have worked with nearly 700 young people since September 2017. This number will rise substantially as we start delivering our masterclass programmes during off-timetable days across the county.

Young Enterprise Oxfordshire
Think from Oxford Academy speak to police about their social enterprise at the Cowley Trade Fair 2018

How do the Young Enterprise programme work?

Our flagship Company Programme runs over the course of a full academic year and allows students to set up and run their own companies. Students make all the decisions about their enterprise, from deciding on the name and product to creating a business plan, managing finances and selling to the public. Each team is paired with a volunteer Business Adviser who brings a wealth of business knowledge and expertise.

We also offer a variety of one-day masterclasses which are typically delivered to entire year groups. These masterclasses focus on teaching students key employability skills and making connections with local businesses/employers.

Young Enterprise Oxfordshire
Jar-den from Burford School pitch their business to a large audience at The King's Centre in Oxford

It aims to produce individuals with the mind-set and skills necessary to respond to opportunities, needs and shortfalls, and with well-developed key employability skills such as decision making, problem solving and personal effectiveness.

How do you educate young people in essential life skills to earn and manage money?

Enterprise education is a proactive learning process where participants apply creative ideas and innovation to practical situations. It aims to produce individuals with the mind-set and skills necessary to respond to opportunities, needs and shortfalls, and with well-developed key employability skills such as decision making, problem solving and personal effectiveness.

Engaging local volunteer employees in the classroom is at the heart of Young Enterprise’s approach to teaching and learning. We have access to over 7,000 volunteers from a range of industry sectors who support our programmes nationally.

Young Enterprise Oxfordshire
Cowley Trade Fair award winners stand with Oxford MP Anneliese Dodds

How does Young Enterprise Oxfordshire help the local economy?

A number of employer surveys report on a serious employability skills gap in the UK. In the recent British Chamber of Commerce Workforce Survey, 92% of polled firms reported skills shortages. Young Enterprise programmes are designed to fill this gap by teaching young people the soft skills they need to succeed.

A recent study of Company Programme participants, compared to a control group, showed consistently higher scores across all employability competencies. A longitudinal study of alumni has shown that in the two years after Company Programme, 94% are in education, employment or training – 6% higher than the 88% national rate.

Young Enterprise Oxfordshire
Xylo, a company from Abingdon School, speaking to a local councillor

How can local businesses help?

Young Enterprise is driven by passionate volunteers, who act as mentors, board members and/or masterclass delivery partners. Local businesses can help by donating their time to help mentor young people taking part in our programmes.

Local businesses can also help financially. Although we offer our programmes at substantially subsidised rates, state schools often struggle to be able to afford them. In sponsoring a state school to be able to take part in Company Programme or a one-day masterclass, local businesses can directly impact the skills development of young people whilst supporting their local communities.

Young Enterprise Oxfordshire
Taylor & Francis, lead sponsor of Oxon Company of the Year competition, stands with winning teams

What support do your offer to your volunteers?

We provide comprehensive induction and safeguarding training to all our Company Programme volunteers and encourage our volunteers to network with experienced advisers and Centre Leads in order to share best practice. We continuously add helpful resources to our secure extranet service YE Online, which all Company Programme volunteers have access to. In addition, we have a full Young Enterprise support team, a local Area Manager and multiple local volunteer boards in Oxfordshire that are available to provide guidance and support.

Young Enterprise Oxfordshire
Area Manager Cassandra Cardiff presenting Chris Bateman with the Gold Award for Volunteering 2018

Lastly which are your favourite independent businesses in Oxford?

We are huge fans of independent businesses that make an effort to be involved in and support their local communities. We have a number of volunteers and supporters from independent businesses in Oxford, including Katie from Every Body Studio, Adam from Yoga Quota, and Rosie from A Rosie Life and Independent Oxford, who is Company Programme alumna herself!

People involved with independent businesses make especially fantastic Young Enterprise volunteers, as they understand the nitty gritty of running a small business and are able to provide real insight to young entrepreneurs.

Yoga Quota Oxford
Volunteer Adam English from Yoga Quota

I really enjoyed taking part in Young Enterprise at school, and am so grateful to the charity for providing me with business insight and the skills that set me on the path to becoming a business owner myself.

I had the pleasure of judging one of the local heats this year (17 years on from when I was in the very same heat!) and was so inspired by the creativity and passion the teams possessed. It really is a fantastic charity to invest time in, to help safeguard the business skills and knowledge needed to nurture the next generation of independent business owners, who will in turn make our communities a more vibrant and interesting place to live.

Love, Rosie xxx

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