A group of students from Exmouth Community College will be making their first steps into the world of business when they join Devon company LittlePod at an international trade show later this week.
The five students aged between 14 and 16, along with their teacher, will be attending the Food Matters Live conference at The ExCeL in London, after winning a competition.
The trip is a result of the Enterprise Adviser Network (EAN), a new project that aims to improve careers provision for young people by recruiting business volunteers to work with schools across Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay.
Janet Sawyer (BEM), Managing Director of LittlePod, started work as a volunteer Enterprise Adviser at Exmouth College in September helping to support the development of career advice and guidance available to young people.
Janet set up a competition for the Business Studies students at the school, asking them to design an interactive portal for LittlePod’s exhibition stand. The winners were selected from a panel of experts and the winning design will be used at the event.
Now in its third year, Food Matters Live is a prestigious event and the UK’s only conference bringing together all aspects of the food industry internationally to enable collaboration and debate. The students have been given special permission to attend the event, as normally entrance is only available to over 18s.
At the exhibition, the students will be presented with a LittlePod Enterprise Award for their work, which will be presented by former intern of the company Aisha Stenning who hails from East Devon and is now Information & Sustainable Business Analyst at Unilever. As a special treat, they have also been given an invitation to visit the HSBC HQ in Canary Wharf, with a guided tour and a business brunch.
Janet said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the students, who will have the chance to experience a large corporate event and see how business works internationally.
“I have always been concerned about young people – LittlePod has a history of offering internships and apprenticeships to around 15 people to date. I wanted to volunteer as an Enterprise Adviser as I found the idea of acting as a link between the education environment and business environment compelling and wanted to make a contribution.”
Stephen Criddle, Chair of the Enterprise Adviser Steering Group, Principal of South Devon College and HotSW LEP Board Member said: “The Enterprise Adviser Project is an important way of linking schools and business, helping young people to get more careers guidance and make more informed decisions about their future.
“This experience for the students at Exmouth Community College is a great example of how businesses can help inspire interest and ignite ideas by working closely with young people and schools.”
Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “Enterprise Advisers are working hard across the area to build better links between schools and businesses. There are many opportunities for rewarding careers in the Heart of the South West, so this service is in place to make sure that students are aware of them.
“It’s an important part of the LEP’s wider strategy to addresses skills gaps and shortages. It will help the economy in the long term by helping business recruit the people they need; and help young people stay in the area and secure higher value jobs.”
Funding for the project was secured by HotSW LEP, in conjunction with the four upper tier local authorities. The Enterprise Adviser Network encourages employers and schools to work together to support young people in making informed choices about their future careers.
CSW Group is contracted to provide the service, which is being funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company, Devon County Council, Somerset County Council, Plymouth City Council and Torbay Development Agency.
LittlePod, based at Farringdon near Exeter, was set up in 2010 and is now an established company, providing high-quality, vanilla, coffee and chocolate extract products across the UK and beyond.
To find out more visit www.heartofswlep.co.uk/ean
*Update* Watch the video from the event here: