Coca-Cola Enterprises this week took the national final of its Real Business Challenge to Parliament for the first time.
The initiative is 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
Nick Boles, Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Enterprise.
He said the Government recognised “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.”
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.
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.
Ms Jamieson said: “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.”
Karen Wallin, CEO of Special Olympics GBadded that the initiative provided “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.”
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.
Bill Muirhead, Senior Manager of Education Programmes at Coca-Cola Enterprisesstressed the importance of the business and education sectors working collaboratively with each other and called on the 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,” he added.