Between October 2019 to April 2020 Connect Dacorum are staging the Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge with Year 12 students from schools within Dacorum.

Teams of students (the Apprentices) will be set a challenge to turn £100 into £1,000 or more for a local  charity through developing a mini-business /enterprise. The teams may do this in any way they choose as long as they prepare a clear plan stating what their business idea is and how they aim to reach their target. The charity and Dragon partnered with the Apprentice team provide £50 seed funding, each, for the Challenge.

Each team will have a business mentor (Dragon), who provides support in the form of advice and access to resources to help their team achieve their business goal and funding target. Profits made by the teams go to their allocated charity /community group. An Awards event celebrating the achievements of the Apprentices will be held in April 2020. At the event the Apprentice teams will be given the opportunity to present what they have achieved to a panel of judges (SuperDragons), a number of Awards will be announced at the event.

The Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge launched in 2009 with the core aim of bringing the education, business and not for profit sectors together to further the business experiences and social awareness of young people on a local level.

Today the challenge is growing and operates across a number of districts. If you are considering being a Dragon you could be about to enter a programme that is hard work but can be very rewarding and offer you professional development.

Dragon’s role objective

The primary goal of the Dragon is to build positive and supportive relationships with the Apprentices (the students) in order to enhance their ability to plan, develop and execute their business plans.

The role of a Dragon

Support activities are undertaken through a range of channels including face-to-face meetings telephone discussions and email exchanges.

Dragons are required to:

  • agree a contact strategy that best meets the needs of their Apprentice group
  • facilitate the completion of their business plan and their final business report
  • attend the launch of the challenge to meet your team and attend the awards evening to support your team
  • encourage the Apprentices to express and discuss their ideas, concerns and understanding of the business situation facing them
  • to impart basic business understanding, -many students will not understand standard practises such as creating meeting agendas and creating minutes
  • help the Apprentices to review their progress upon each activity and set realistic and practical options to realise their goals
  • refer mentees to other sources of information, advice or further support when appropriate- it is perfectly acceptable to introduce them to suppliers or contacts that can help them make their plans a reality
  • help mentees to reflect on and learn from things that did not turn out as expected
  • keep accurate records of emails and calls
  • stay in touch with Dragons HQ, if there are any relationship concerns then please highlight them early whilst it is easier to fix
  • Work with the partner charity and the school representative effectively
  • Promote the challenge amongst your colleagues and or business contacts

Dragon competencies

The Dragon needs to possess or develop the following competencies in order to undertake the mentoring role effectively:

Skills

Core

  • Excellent communication skills to include active listening
  • Patience and understanding
  • Facilitation skills to ensure equal participation
  • Personal development

Non-core

  • Risk management and positive intervention skills
  • Time management

Knowledge and understanding

Non-core

  • Following rules regarding safe guarding of young people
  • The mentoring relationship and the importance of using the most effective communication methods to create a productive mentoring environment
  • How a business works (essential enterprise know-how)

Personal behaviours

Core

Mentors should have the ability to:

  • Respect the agreed communication methods- any problems contact Dragons HQ
  • Listen and respond effectively and check understanding (nodding does not always mean understanding with young people)
  • Adapt their personal style to empathise with a whole range of Apprentices
  • Build and maintain rapport over sustained periods of time
  • Invite a two-way exchange of information with the team and others
  • Take a flexible approach to work and meetings
  • Be emotionally resilient and be able to change direction if needed
  • Embrace the values of the partner charity

Experience

  • Successful hands-on professional expertise in key business areas including marketing, sales, law, finance/accounting, HR, IT, customer service, research, imports/exports
  • Any experience working with young people is always helpful but not essential

Mandatory

Enjoy it and develop new skills!

How to get involved:

If you would like to take part as a Dragon in the 2019/20 Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge, or provide sponsorship support, please register your interest by completing the Registration Form and send them to Cindy Withey at Connect Dacorum.