HIGH-PROFILE businessman and former Dragons’ Den TV star Theo Paphitis will be among the judges visiting Staffordshire for the final of The National Enterprise Challenge.

The competition, run by Stoke-based Youth Enterprise CIC, has this year involved 100 schools across the country and about 20,000 pupils from Years 7 to 10.

The event, which aims to encourage young people to develop their entrepreneurial skills, has seen each school hold their own mini-tournament with the winning teams now battling it out for the final prize against competitors from up and down the UK.

Students in Years 7 and 8 were set the task of designing and marketing a new pencil case for competition sponsor , while the Years 9 and 10 age group had to do the same with a footwear range for flip flop brand Gandys.

Theo Gandys

(Photo Rob Forkan – Gandys LEFT, Theo Paphitis – Shopkeeper MIDDLE, Paul Forkan – Gandys RIGHT)

While the final last year was held in London, organiser Youth Enterprise has worked with Staffordshire University to utilise its graduation marquees at Trentham Gardens to bring the competition to the venue this year.

As well as Mr Paphitis, right, judges at the July 1 final will include magician Ben Hanlin from ITV2’s Tricked and Gandys founders Paul and Rob Forkan.

Ben Dyer, director of Youth Enterprise, said: “Each team on the day will make their pitch again until we whittle it down to the last round, who will go before the panel of judges, headed up by Theo Paphitis.

“We are proud to be holding such a high profile event in Staffordshire and to be bringing something into the area.

“This competition has been taken up by schools around the country, including a number from North Staffordshire, who will all be heading here for the final.

“We think bringing the competition home, to where it was founded, is really positive news.”

The National Enterprise Challenge was launched in 2013 as a way of delivering enterprise education to more young people.

In its first year it received backing from Lord Sugar and saw 11,000 pupils take part.

As part of this year’s final Mr Paphitis, whose businesses span retail, property, finance and consumer goods, will be holding a question and answer session.

Mr Dyer said: “In terms of the challenge we have doubled the number of schools and students taking part from last year.

“It’s definitely growing and we anticipate reaching out to up to 50,000 students and more in the coming years.

“We are passionate about the skills of young people and this competition covers everything from teamwork to communication, leadership, how to hold a presentation – everything they need for the world of work.

“We aim to help young people develop those skills but also show the country what they are already capable of.”


( Theo Paphitis at TNEC Launch Event, Wayra Academy London)

Source – The Sentinel

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