Chamber Matters: iStart Challenge
Published 29 Aug 2014Donald MacBeath, Principal of North Highland College and Chamber Board member, discusses the “iStart Challenge”, run in partnership with the North Highland Regeneration Fund, and the importance of educating young people in the enterprise mindset.
I have long had a keen interest in enterprise skills and helping young people to think entrepreneurially. This interest grew further when a few years ago I completed a course of post-graduate study in enterprise education which really opened my eyes to the importance of embedding enterprise skills in every course of learning.
The days of having a “job for life”, of staying with the same company from leaving education to retirement, are long past, and the employment landscape our students face today is far different from anything previous generations faced. Employers nowadays expect students leaving colleges and universities to be flexible, adaptable and enterprising. I also believe there will be a growing requirement for our students to carve out their own employment opportunities through self -employment or setting up their own small business ventures. So, every student regardless of their subject area of expertise, needs to develop a set of enterprise skills that will help them to survive and flourish in their working lives. Skills such as opportunity spotting, pitching & persuading, networking with others, calculating and managing risk and rescuing situations when things don’t go to plan will all be key to their future success.
In particular, being able to reflect and critically assess why things have not gone well, and to learn from that, is a key enterprise skill and a powerful learning process. I firmly believe in the maxim that good decision making comes from experience and experience comes from bad decision making!
What we can do as a College is provide our students with a space in which they can try things out and develop a wide range of skillsets. A space in which they can learn from their mistakes and become better equipped to face the challenges they will encounter in their careers.
The iStart Challenge is a key part of this, presenting a great opportunity for our students and other young people in Caithness to exercise their enterprise skills. Taking part will allow them to practice a range of skills – critical thinking, financial planning, pitching and presenting – that will serve them well in the future.
iStart is more than just a simple competition. Those taking part will receive expert guidance and a strong grounding in some of the key skills necessary for future success and, while all will have their eyes on the prize, even those who do not make it through to the final rounds will leave well equipped to face similar challenges in the future.
I’d like to thank the North Highland Regeneration Fund for their generous sponsorship of this initiative. The Fund has long worked to support and encourage entrepreneurial spirit amongst young people in the area, as part of their ongoing efforts to support the economic regeneration of Caithness and North Sutherland, and their sponsorship and support has been an invaluable part of making this happen.
To find out more about the iStart Challenge and how you can take part, simply visit http://www.nhrf.co.uk/Publications/istart-challenge.