STUDENTS in Northumberland would certainly be hired after showing their business skills in an Apprentice-style competition.
And youngsters from Morpeth came out top in the The Alnwick Garden Enterprise Challenge to scoop the £1,000 prize for Collingwood School and Media Arts College.
The competition was run by The Alnwick Garden to encourage pupils to develop their business acumen by selling its products to make the highest profit.
Each group was offered stock from the Garden’s gift shop and a small amount of start-up money in October, then returned to a prize-giving ceremony last month to find out how they had done.
The Collingwood pupils emerged the winners after generating a £924 profit.
The school’s Business Manager Maureen Spence said: “It was absolutely brilliant to win because the students worked so hard. They managed to sell everything, which was great.
“They put goods on eBay, which was a good exercise for them, they sold goods in school and the biggest challenge was trying to sell a lot of postcards. They didn’t know what to do with them at first, but then someone came up with the idea of a raffle so they sold the postcards as raffle tickets and used some of the goods from the shop as prizes, which was very enterprising.
“They also sold some goods at a Christmas Fair by making gift bags and making the items more buyable. They did really well.
“Every year we run an enterprise group with the sixth form students, but this was something totally different. It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off and we would do it again because it was good for the students.”
Sixth form students from Ponteland High School also shone as they managed to sell some of the more eccentric stock, such as novelty duck shaped watering cans and hedgehog shoe cleaners.
The group, made up of Charlie Potter, Priya Chowdhry, Charles Westbury, Sabah Din, Andrew Hayes and Andy Tang, managed to make £545 of sales from using local contacts, taking part in Christmas fairs, selling at parents’ evenings and even approaching a local business to see if they could get their stock on the shelves.
Teacher Mark Tippins said: “The challenge is not as easy as it sounds. The students were given some really challenging products to sell and were given a relatively short time to do it in.
“This activity challenged the students to really think about what they were doing, plan and strategise their sales and test their skills.
“At the presentation event at The Alnwick Garden they had to present their sales records to the judges and other schools. They did the school and themselves proud.
“Competitions and events like this happen all the time at Ponteland High School, but this one definitely challenged the students and their perceptions of sales and the business world as a whole.”
Others to secure prizes were second placed Hirst Park Middle School group, which won £500 for the school, third placed Haydon Bridge Community High School team, which won a set of family tickets to The Alnwick Garden, and Prudhoe Community High School’s group, which won the Golden Frog trophy for its business efforts.
David Hawke, from The Alnwick Garden, said: “Enterprise Challenge provided an exciting opportunity for local young people to build their entrepreneurial skills and work as a team to develop a business strategy and have a taste of the business world.”
Northumberland County Council Executive Member for Children and Young People Lesley Rickerby said: “This is a fantastic competition, which helps to develop teamwork, communication skills, as well as many elements that can be applied to academic studies and life in the world of work.
“Everyone who took part is to be congratulated for their outstanding efforts.”