The Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has provided a grant worth £23,000 to support The Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge as it spreads across the country.

The challenge offers local year 12’s (16 -17 year olds) an opportunity to develop business skills and gain valuable experience to prepare them for the working world.

Teams of students are paired with a local business ‘dragon’ and a local charity or community group. The team is given £100 and set the challenge of turning that initial £100 investment into £1,000 or even more... Each team must produce a genuine business proposal, rather than raising money through fundraising or sponsorship and at the end of the challenge all of the profits go to charity.

With direction from their dragons, the students learn about entrepreneurship, managing a business, communications, finance, organisation and other job related skills, all of which will be of positive and practical value in the next stage of their education and development.

Hertfordshire LEP board member and Super Dragon Graham Lane said: “We need to address the local skills gaps and challenges such as this create a valuable dialogue between, schools, businesses and young people. We want businesses engaging and telling us what they want from school leavers so that schools and colleges can equip students with practical skills for the working world. I’m delighted that the LEP is supporting the Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge. The scheme provides local youngsters with a golden opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills for their future. As a dragon I’ve witnessed the fresh ideas and enthusiasm young people can bring to a business first hand. It’s a very rewarding scheme to be part of.”

Since the challenge began five years ago in St Albans it has grown, developed and spread across the county’s ten districts.
This year the challenge is being run across Hertfordshire by seven infrastructure organisations serving the voluntary sector based in Broxbourne, Hertsmere, Dacorum, Watford/Three Rivers, Welwyn & Hatfield and North Hertfordshire/Stevenage.

Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge Project Manager Penny Mortimer said: “To date, the challenge has generated over £114,000, for 64 different charities in Hertfordshire are we’re growing from strength to strength. The LEP’s financial support has enabled us to run the challenge in new areas and provides a fantastic opportunity to help young people develop their talent. The challenge has attracted the attention of local authorities across the country and Europe and we’re hoping that Dragon’s Apprentice Challenge will continue to expand.”