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Students in further education are set to discover their inner entrepreneur through a brand new programme aimed at helping them make the move to self-employment.

Staffordshire County Council’s Ignite Programme, delivered by Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, will provide free advice, workshops, mentoring and support for post-16 further education (FE) students looking to set up their own business in Staffordshire. It will launch this month at Burton and South Derbyshire College, Leek and Buxton College, Newcastle and Stafford College Group and South Staffordshire College.

Economic downturns tend to lead to particularly large increases in unemployment for young people and the coronavirus pandemic is no exception. It has already hit hard in the retail and hospitality sectors which traditionally employ younger people. Young people are also more likely to be moving in and out of work and most affected by slowdowns in recruitment as well as facing increased competition from those with more work experience and job-specific skills.

Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills, Philip White, said: “Investing in young people is crucial for their wellbeing and long-term employment prospects and ultimately benefits our communities.

“The Ignite student startup scheme will encourage young people to consider the benefits of setting up their own enterprise, giving them the grounding to understand the workings of business from finance to marketing, and overcoming the many challenges they would encounter.

“Our aim through this programme is to engage with 4,000 students in the first year with 100 taking on the intensive five-day programme and a target of 20 business starts. This is an ambitious initiative, but we are confident that this will make a real difference to participants’ future and encourage more to get involved as we recover from the pandemic.”

Scheme Coordinator, Tom Nadin, from Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “The aim of the programme is to make sure that young people in the final year of further education, who aspire to, or may be considering starting up on their own, are provided the support they need to make their new business a success. The scheme will help students develop entrepreneurial thinking, alongside existing studies and thus open self-employment opportunities upon leaving further education.

“The student startup programme will be delivered in an engaging and interactive way, helping young people understand the basics of entrepreneurialism and enterprise. It will be delivered through five days of intensive workshops at the end of the students’ mainstream college programme.”

The programme will cover business basics (company formations, taxation and VAT); business planning; marketing planning; developing networking and sales skills and business finances (basic cash flow forecasting, personal survival budgets and funding).

These sessions will be delivered by the Chamber’s experienced business startup advisers. The sessions will ideally be undertaken in college settings dependent on any restrictions in place. All participants will also have access to mentors from a range of different backgrounds, many under the age of 30 who have started and are successfully running their own businesses.

Anyone who would like more information should contact Tom Nadin at: or call 01782 202222.

Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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