Educators often talk and theorise about the need for real-life and engaging learning for students. Well, my first year as the YES (Young Enterprise Scheme) Canterbury co-ordinator has proved to me that it works!
In this year-long programme, senior secondary students have the opportunity to form and operate their own businesses, taking innovative ideas and making them into real products and services. Personal achievement and excellence is encouraged through competitions, workshops, and public trade fairs involving business and the community.
Just recently, I received a copy of a letter from Emily Tasker, who was a member of Rangi Ruru's Flatpack Farming team in 2012. The letter was sent to the YES organising team. Her sentiments say it all. Here’s a couple of excerpts from her letter:
Because of my new experiences over the past 12 months, I would like to say a huge thank you to you and your YES team for all the enthusiasm and effort put into the Scheme. I recognise that without the dedication from people such as you, real business education like this would not happen.
I was introduced to Young Enterprise at Rangi Ruru Girls’ School … at the start of 2012. My intent was to make a few friends and any profit would go towards my dream of flying. However, what I did not realise, was that a whole new world of opportunity would redirect my dreams out of the clouds and back down to earth. Despite the discovery that Young Enterprise was not solely about making a huge profit, the challenges it gave to established friendships amongst our team, and the steep curve of testing my negotiation and communication skills – I now believe that, provided I continue to put my heart and soul in, YES will be the making of me.
2012 has witnessed Flatpack Farming achieve:
- Highly Commended in Presentation, Marketing and Winner at Dragons Den
- Canterbury YES Co-ordinator Award for Business Practise
- Science Alive Innovations Award
- Regional Runner-Up in Canterbury
- National Awards – The Youth Development Award for Commitment
- National Awards – The MOVAC High Growth Potential Award.
As for my team ‘Flatpack Farming’ – we are no longer a “charity” but now a registered business, continuing with the goal of helping farmers safely transport their tools on quad bike around their farm.
Thank you once again for all the work you put in behind the scenes. Please know you have made a difference for me.
Reflecting on the YES Canterbury year 2012
Let’s have a look at the programme as I found it over the year, and see for yourself just how enabling and empowering this programme is.
The YES year kicked off in March with the annual E-Day. Over 250 students from around Canterbury who had chosen to take up the YES programme in 2012 came to hear a variety of speakers talk about what is involved and expected during the year.
An important part of the programme was the mentoring session, which gave students valuable time with a variety of business people. They were able to bounce ideas and receive informed feedback. Students left this day with a lot of ideas buzzing around their heads, and the hard work was about to begin!
Teams, directors, business plans, brainstorming, market research, and…
Once they had formed their teams and chosen their directors they then had to decide on the product or service they wished to develop over the coming months. Teams that made this decision quickly were able to knuckle down and formulate their business plan. Teams who needed some start-up cash fundraised within the school and wider community. The remainder of Term 1 was spent brainstorming and evaluating their ideas, and carrying out market research to see if their idea was a good one. At the end of this term the team could produce a business card and enter the competition which would see the winner receive free business cards for the year!
Getting “investors” to buy in
Term 2 was all about action, and for those teams that had a workable business plan in place their business could begin to take shape. If they had a prototype of their product then they were encouraged to hold a “product launch”, either at school, or somewhere in their local community. The culmination of Term 2 was the Dragons’ Den (or Business Presentation Competition). Teams had five minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of local business people. This competition was hotly contested with a variety of prizes sponsored by local businesses up for grabs.
Trade fairs, sales—and annual reports
For the companies that had worked hard and pushed things along in Terms 1 and 2, Term 3 was all about reaping the benefits of their toil—with sales! A trade fair was held at Northlands Mall, where the teams displayed their product or service in a live environment.
By the end of Term 3 each team was required to submit their annual report, which summarised their progress through the year to the YET (Young Enterprise Trust) in Wellington, where it was marked by a team of independent judges.
Term 4 was all about celebration with the Regional Awards ceremony held at the University of Canterbury in October. At this ceremony the Regional Winner, Runner-Up, and a variety of other awards were presented. The Regional Winner (Romulus from St. Thomas of Canterbury College) then went to Wellington at the beginning of December to compete for the National Awards, along with Flatpack Farming from Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, who ultimately won two excellence awards at the National Awards.
St. Thomas's team: Romulus
Rangi Ruru's team Flatpack Farming
Now, let YES 2013 begin
Now that I have a whole year under my belt I am looking forward to 2013 with much enthusiasm—and I’m a YES advocate through and through! YES helps develop real-life skills that student’s will take with them into their careers. I look forward to, hopefully, having even more Canterbury students take part in 2013, and I hope teachers will encourage their students to participate all around the country. We owe our students this kind of learning. Put the theory into practice.
Interested in looking at this model and the YES programme?
CORE Education coordinates the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) on behalf of the Young Enterprise Trust for Canterbury. YES is a national programme of the Young Enterprise Trust, developed for secondary students.