Shropshire Pupils in “X Factor” Business Finals

1,000 schoolchildren, including pupils from Shropshire schools, will pitch their ideas “X factor” style in the UK’s largest ever enterprise challenge being held in the county to inspire young people into the world of work.

Entrepreneurs Mike (left) and Ben Dyer with Dragons Den star Theo Paphitis holding a pencil case manufactured to a design from pupils and sold in shops
Entrepreneurs Mike (left) and Ben Dyer with Dragons Den star Theo Paphitis holding a pencil case manufactured to a design from pupils and sold in shops

The 11 to 15-year-olds from 150 of the nation’s secondary schools will be at the Telford International Centre on July 4 for the grand final of a year long competition involving 40,000 pupils.

Eleven Shropshire schools competing in the finals are Adams Grammar School, Burton Borough School, Charlton School, Concord College, Ercall Wood Technology College, Hadley Learning Community, Idsall School, Shrewsbury Academy, Telford Priory School, Thomas Adams School and Thomas Telford School.

It is the fifth annual challenge organised by Shropshire businessmen Ben and Michael Dyer, based at Telford Enterprise Hub in Hadley Park, , who want to inspire the next generation and give them the business skills to “open doors” to a brighter future as entrepreneurs and employees.

They grew up on a “Benefits Street” housing estate in Stoke and know only too well of the disadvantages facing underprivileged young people from the poorer parts of town.

They came up with the idea for the Ryman National Enterprise Challenge after overhearing two well dressed businessmen in a café saying that young people were not ready for the world of work when they left school.

Former Dragons Den star Theo Paphitis, supports the challenge each year and will be at the grand final in Telford, Shropshire, which also features Rio Olympic Gold medal canoeist Joe Clarke, CBBC presenters Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes and Young Apprentice star Ashley Porter-Exley.

KS4 pupils from Shropshire, who have won their regional finals, will showcase their skills in developing an app for stationers Ryman while KS3 youngsters will reveal their ideas for a new live event or attraction to promote Galactica, the first ever flying virtual reality roller coaster at Alton Towers amusement park.

“We grew up on a Benefits Street estate in Stoke where there was no-one to inspire young people,” said Ben who works with cousin Mike to promote the business challenge to schools across the UK in a “not for profit” venture.

“The challenge is about building young people’s skills and making them more employable, being enterprising and ultimately ready for the world of work.

“It gives students a real insight into the world of work. The skills that we build throughout the day in the school and then at the finals all help towards developing their employability.”

Mike added: “Entrepreneurship is something that we hear a lot when we work in schools and if we inspire a few people to go down this route, then that is a real plus but we are encouraging everyone to be the best that they can be. Not everyone will become an entrepreneur but we can all develop an entrepreneurial spirit.”

Business skills learned in the challenge include how to make a presentation, teamwork, leadership, meet deadlines and resolve disputes. The challenge has been so successful in schools that it has now been officially recognised by the OCR exam board and will be incorporated into their Enterprise and Marketing qualification from September.

Theo said he is “passionate” about supporting the next generation of young entrepreneurs “to get them ready for life after school.”

The Ryman National Enterprise Challenge has been taken by 140,000 schoolchildren since it was launched in 2013.