Community Apprentice

Business mentors help students tackle real-life problems

On 19th October, a group of 18 Year 12 students took part in their first business mentoring session of the Community-Apprentice competition between Handsworth Wood Girls Academy and intellectual property law firm Marks and Clerk.

The mentors have generously agreed to support the students at key points in the ten-month programme, which, like the TV series The Apprentice, requires students to demonstrate personal qualities whilst working in teams to manage their own projects.  In this case, however, the students will be competing to see who can make the biggest positive impact on their community, rather than the most profit.

Tackling real-life problems

The programme, which has recently been recognised by the Department of Education as an effective model for employer engagement, inspires students to develop their employability skills while tackling real-life problems.

Students can tackle whatever issues matter most to them, but they have to reach consensus within their team about what that is.  Team Revival has decided to tackle domestic violence and Team Alleviate want to improve homelessness.

Office manager Lynne Jackson, one of the mentors, said “We all loved meeting young people who are so open and enthusiastic about experiencing new things and developing themselves. It was fantastic to interact with them, gaining an insight into their goals and what they hoped to achieve through the Community Apprentice competition.”

Developing employability skills

The competition requires students to develop, and crucially evidence, four key skills; teamwork, resilience and problem solving, organisation, and communication. In the first mentoring session, mentors provided students with examples to demonstrate how valuable these skills are in their own jobs.

Throughout the Community-Apprentice competition, teams take part in inter-school challenges. The first of these, the Film Challenge, develops team-working and communication skills by challenging teams to produce a film of no more than two minutes explaining why their issue matters in a single take! The next challenge is the Pitching Challenge in November, which will see both teams present to a panel of judges, leaders in the local business community, for up to £100 to fund their projects.

Mentor 1   Mentor 2