Three local schools in Bucks have gone head-to-head in the county’s first ever Sales Apprentice Challenge, organised by Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership’s Skills Hub to help students gain essential sales experience in a fun and practical way.
In this initial pilot, three schools were teamed up with entrepreneurial local businesses to compete against each other for the CV-enhancing challenge – Buckingham School, Aylesbury College and Amersham & Wycombe College (The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy).
Serious Brands, Webmart and ANT Telecom joined forces to deliver the exciting opportunity for year 12s, developing the core sales skills everyone needs professionally and in life, and gain valuable real experience.
Marina Jackson, Under 19 Skills Manager, Buckinghamshire Skills Hub, said: “The challenge gives students the opportunity to discover traits common to all sales professionals, exploring and developing confidence, knowledge, presentation, communication, research, resilience and persistence.”
Teams of year 12s competed in schools in the first round. The winning team from each school then spent a day with their employer mentor in the workplace training for the final, which took place on 19th April at Coca Cola Enterprises, Milton Keynes. The final was judged by Nick Coleman, local entrepreneur and founder of the Snaffling Pig and Medical Supermarket and Amrita Das of the Careers and Enterprise Company. Competition was tight, but Amersham & Wycombe College mentored by ANT Telecom were the overall winners.
Klaus Allion, Managing Director at ANT Telecom, said: “When working with the students it became clear very quickly how much talent and motivation they have. It was amazing to see how quickly they all took on board what we discussed and worked on and how well they presented their sales pitches. Congratulations to all teams, but specifically to my team from Amersham & Wycombe college for their winning performance. I can only urge other employers and entrepreneurs to come forward and get involved.”
Carla Dean, Sales Support from Webmart, said: “It was great to be able to pass on our knowledge and see our group grow in both skills and confidence throughout the process. I thought all three teams did a fantastic job in the final and it was really encouraging to see how much work and research the students had put into their presentations.”
Following the success of this year’s pilot, plans are in place to expand the challenge across the county next year.
Alex Pratt OBE, Founder of Serious Brands, said: “Every business knows how essential sales skills are to growth. This challenge places rare skills into the hands of young people making them more able to sell themselves into companies looking for greater success in competitive markets”.
Shaun McCarthy, tutor at Amersham & Wycombe College, added: “It was an excellent opportunity for our students to broaden their experience of the ‘real world’.”
If you’re a business or school in Bucks and would like to get involved in next year’s ‘Big Bucks’ Apprentice Sales Challenge, contact Marina Jackson at Bucks Skills Hub on Marina.Jackson@btvlep.co.uk or 07766 654335.
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