Students set to become high fliers

The sky’s the limit for North East youngsters who are being told to aim high to secure their future by pursuing their own entrepreneurial dreams. 

That was the message from the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s exclusive further education partner, Gateshead College, as it welcomed national enterprise campaign’s Start Up Britain Bus to the region.  The College pledged to support more students to set up their own business and get into work and continues its progress towards becoming one of the UK’s top entrepreneurial colleges. 

The pledge, announced at the start of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum autumn conference in Gateshead, was made as students from the college released 700 red balloons – each one representing 10 of the 7,000 unemployed 16 to 24 year olds across Tyneside. 

The students were then invited to step aboard the StartUp Britain bus, which was based at the NewcastleGateshead Hilton where the conference took place as part of a UK Bus Tour sponsored by the Gazelle Colleges Group, of which Gateshead is a founding member. 

A team of business experts, mentors and entrepreneurs were onboard to listen to their enterprising ideas, provide practical advice on how to set up a business and gave guidance on funding. 

Judith Doyle, deputy principal at Gateshead College, said: “It’s vital that we foster a new generation of North East entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial thinkers. 

“These young people will then have the confidence, skills and ambition to either start-up on their own or bring entrepreneurial thinking and ideas into their workplace. 

“Our pledge to support more students to set up their own business and get into work is part of the new approach we are pioneering where the whole ethos, value and culture of the college is distinctively geared towards the task of wealth creation, business formation and growth, and employment outcomes. 

“We want to inspire people to think differently by adding value, creating opportunities and taking informed risks.  Ultimately, we want to encourage our students, tutors and leaders to take on an entrepreneurial mindset.” 

Gateshead College is one of five founder Gazelle colleges and is taking a lead to pioneer change in Further Education by encouraging a larger network of 19 UK colleges, the Gazelle Colleges Group, to commit to fostering entrepreneurialism in the sector. 

The college has also strengthened its position as the North East’s top entrepreneurial college by becoming the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s exclusive further education partner. 

Jaydeep Sandhar, 17, from Pelaw, is studying an Extended Level 3 Diploma in Business at Gateshead College. He said: “It has been really helpful to be able to speak to business advisors and entrepreneurs. It’s encouraging that there is so much help and support available out there.” 

“I’m hoping to start a business when I leave college so today has been really useful in terms of advice and information available.” 

As a Gazelle founder and member, Gateshead College is able to offer students access to a range of benefits, including the StartUp Britain bus tour, which will take in 40 universities and further education colleges reaching up to 10,000 young people across the UK. 

More than 200 Gateshead College students got to board the bus where they could apply for a loan from the £82m StartUp Loans scheme which was launched earlier this year. 

The students were also able to talk to successful local entrepreneurs such as Jules Quinn from The TeaShed, photographer Hayley West-Burrows of iMagic Moment Photography and Marianne Whitfield of Cobweb Information. Shell LiveWIRE business advisors were also onboard to offer their expertise. 

Nigel Mills, chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said: “For more than a decade the Entrepreneurs' Forum has been fostering and championing entrepreneurship in the North East. 

“We share with Gateshead College the aim of creating wealth and business growth in the North East and we’re excited by their vision for transforming education. Together we are working to inspire students to be employers and entrepreneurial employees. 

“The college’s approach to the adoption of entrepreneurship and embedding this throughout its DNA is innovative and sets a blue print for way business skills and behaviours should be taught.” 

As part of the partnership with the Entrepreneurs’ Forum students were able to take part in a fringe conference and hear from successful young regional entrepreneurs. The college will also be working with Forum members to help it develop and progress as an entrepreneurial college. 

StartUp Britain co-founder Emma Jones said: “We are seeing more and more young people setting up businesses.  Research has shown eight out of ten young people think about setting up a business these days as a career path, or a way to turn a hobby into a money-spinning idea. 

“Reports suggest this boom in entrepreneurialism is down to the ‘millennial generation’ grasping both the power of modern technology and the internet. These young people represent part of the future of business and our economic prosperity - that’s why it’s so important to offer them support by delivering the message that they can set up a business, there is support out there for them – and that we’ll be with them every step of the way, cheering loudly!” 

The StartUp campaign is backed by top firms, including Dell, Intel, Intuit, AXA, PayPal and Magento Go, who will all be represented on board the bus.

 The StartUp Britain bus tour is sponsored by the Gazelle Colleges Group and .CO Internet, the company behind the fast-growing .CO domain.