Tom Keighley

North East project nurtures future business PIE-oneers

A group of North East businesses want to instill entrepreneurial thinking in the region’s youngsters through a pioneering schools project.

The Primary Inspiration through Enterprise or ‘PIE’ project uses a vacant shop and real life business processes to inspire, engage and educate primary school pupils.

Lead by Asian Business Connections, Leazes Homes and Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), the project has first launched at Tyneview School in Walker where pupils will run a real corner shop in their community, undertaking all facets of the business from marketing to stock management.

Now the organisations are calling on other local businesses to get involved and open up further opportunities for North East school children to get a taste of enterprise.

The scheme incorporates a strong element of parental engagement and will use social marketplace Kindest to get parents involved by requests for help and expertise that will earn them rewards.

ABC founder and serial entrepreneur, Ammar Mirza, said: “The project is unique because it’s industry-led. It’s not a supported initiative where organisations drop into schools, provide some theoretical activity, and then drop back out again. This is about sustained impact.

“We launched PIE because we felt that it is almost too late to start building interest in enterprise when children are leaving school. Getting in at an earlier stage can help to better influence attitudes that are brought into play as they consider careers - and ensure their secondary education is relevant to their future career.”

Ammar added: “Using the Kindest platform is important to us as it promotes a similar ethos. It aims to reward goodwill.”

PIE aims to integrate business activities with relevant parts of the curriculum - from the use of maths for budgeting needs and english skills in communication.

Bill Midgley, chair of Leazes Homes and PIE President, said: “It is a depressing fact that over 25% of young people under the age of 21 are unemployed with the probability that many will never be able to find work.

“This at the same time that industry, and particularly engineering, complains that it is unable to recruit young people with the skills necessary to fulfil their order books. A situation that will not only delay economic recovery but also is likely to lead to social disorder.

“The current “advice” on careers to our young people is failing. There appears to be little attempt to match skills to ability and far too often parental ambition is the driving force. Whilst there are a number of interventions and various schemes introducing enterprise to young people leaving school, we feel that these are too little and too late.

“The solution has to lie with the business community. It is business that will require the appropriate skills and it is business that has to make a greater effort to interface with young people. This interaction has to start with the ten and eleven year olds, explaining to them the career choices, the qualification alternatives, and the paths they may follow. Ultimately inspiring them to understand and appreciate enterprise early on.”

ABC host their annual ABCExpo on Thursday this week at Excelsior Academy in Newcastle, including speakers from Newcastle City Council and Your Homes Newcastle, as well as family events.

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