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Coca-Cola Enterprises brings young entrepreneurs to parliament

Coca-Cola Enterprises | Coca-Cola Europacific Partners

5 min read Partner content

Real Business Challenge national finalists meet MPs as part of a drive for greater work-related learning in schools

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) this week took the national final of its Real Business Challenge to Parliament for the first time as part of an industry focus to encourage greater work-related learning, including more employability and business related skills to be recognised and taught in schools.

The visit formed part of a two day national final for the annual enterprise competition, which saw students from 11 secondary school teams meet MPs, including VIP guest Nick Boles, Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Enterprise. Guests also heard from Steve Adams, Director of Supply Chain Operations at CCE, who called for greater collaboration between Government and industry to support the development of young people’s business aspirations and attainment.

The Parliamentary reception, hosted by Shadow Financial Secretary Cathy Jamieson MP, demonstrated CCE’s commitment, through the Real Business Challenge, to supporting the development of students’ ’softer skills’ – for example teamwork and problem-solving. CCE has put forward a request for the Real Business Challenge to be recognised in the proposed Enterprise Passport scheme, part of the Government’s Lord Young’s Review into Enterprise Education (‘Enterprise For All’), as a way to recognise the importance of employability skills teaching and application. 

Now in its eleventh year, the 2014/15 challenge tasked students with developing a campaign for this year’s competition partner Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB), to help raise funds and awareness for athletes who are attending the Special Olympics World Games in July. Students presented their campaigns, including an app design, to MPs and other guests in attendance.

Following their day at the House of Commons, the finalists then went on to present at the Grand Final, which took place yesterday at the QEII Conference Centre. Teams showcased their theoretical proposal for a new sustainable juice brand to a panel of industry experts including Josh Hardie, Director of Corporate Responsibility at Tesco and Helen Davies, Head of Public Affairs at OCR. With a focus on sustainability, students were also given the opportunity to consult one of CCE’s Environmental Managers from across the business’ six manufacturing sites on their proposals.

Wycombe Abbey School came out victorious as national champion at the 2015 Real Business Challenge. The winners will receive a digital workshop to help develop their app with a view to making it available for download from iTunes.

Nick Boles, Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Enterprise for Department of Business, Innovation Skills said: “This Government recognises the vital role employers have to play in preparing young people for the modern economy, and we have taken significant measures to reflect this, including the creation of the new employer-led careers and enterprise company. I am therefore delighted to see how the employers involved in the Real Business Challenge have given young people the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their business skills, and the fantastic way those young people have responded.”

Cathy Jamieson, MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun and Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury said: "It was a pleasure to host this year's Real Business Challenge, which is now in its eleventh year. The skills the Challenge seeks to nurture - creativity, problem-solving, teamwork - are essential in all walks of life, and it is wonderful to see then being utilised by young people across the country, and deployed in support of the Special Olympics GB.

I would like to congratulate Wycombe Abbey School on their excellent design, and commend all the other participants on the high standard of all the work on display. Ensuring that their product was sustainable was an additional complication and challenge to all the teams, and one they met with considerable vision and ingenuity.

Bill Muirhead, ‎Senior Manager of Education Programmes at Coca-Cola Enterprises GB, said: “Business and education sectors must work collaboratively with each other and Government to help inspire and encourage students to gain vital work-related business skills. Education forms a core part of our Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability commitments. Our £4m investment since 2011 in education initiatives such as the Real Business Challenge provide a bridge between learning in schools and that next stage of broadening students horizons into what opportunities are available.. It is in our interests to support the development of young people – to develop the skills that are central to success – not only in businesses such as ours, but in any line of work.

“We are extremely proud to be working with Special Olympics Great Britain again for this year’s competition. This partnership brings huge educational value to the programme and has proved engaging and inspiring to students and teachers alike. Congratulations to Wycombe Abbey School on being crowned our 2014/15 national champions. The level of insight, business acumen and digital nous seen from students in this year’s competition has been astounding.”

Karen Wallin, CEO of Special Olympics GB said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Real Business Challenge initiative again this year. It provides such a great platform for our charity to educate young people in a fun setting about the work we do and to help to dispel common misconceptions about what it is like to live with an intellectual disability. This is our third year partnering with CCE and the level of innovation and creativity from the teams in developing their campaigns is always incredible! It also really helps to increase our understanding of engaging young people in our work.”

The Real Business Challenge is designed to inspire and educate young people, helping them gain the skills they need to have a competitive edge in the job market. Growing from strength to strength, the number of schools entering the competition has almost tripled over the past four years, with the competition now reaching over 75,000 students. Since its inception over ten years ago, more than a quarter of a million students have benefited from the Real Business Challenge programme.

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