Students at Nelson and Colne College Sixth Form have been wowing the College’s own panel, by taking part in the College version of ‘The Apprentice’.

Organised by the College’s Business Studies department, a mixture of Business and IT students took part in this highly popular competition. Given the recent success of Pendle Borough Council’s bid to secure funding from the Portas Pilot, the students were tasked with coming up with their own ‘pop-up shop’ which could run in one of the vacant units in Nelson Town Centre. The council’s successful bid has a focus on encouraging young people to use the town centre and so a shop which created by the students seemed like an ideal project – also giving the students a chance to use all of their business skills.

In order to wow the panel and “Sir Allan”, the students needed to come up with an interesting and innovative ‘pop-up shop’, which could be started on a very limited budget in a short space of time. They then had to research their idea to see if it was commercially viable and consider the branding and marketing of their shop.

The panel included BBC Apprentice competitor and former Nelson and Colne College student Azhar Siddique, Hanna Latty, Town Centre Officer for Pendle Borough Council, Assistant Principal and Director of Financial Services David Rothwell, Director of Marketing and Enterprise at the College Alison Rushton and ‘Sir Allan’; a role undertaken by Allan Dye, Head of Student Services. All of the teams had to pitch their designs to the ‘experts’ and undergo a thorough grilling from their peers and the panel.

All the presentations were polished and professional, with well thought out marketing strategies and brand concepts. Much consideration had also been given to the financial constraints of their businesses, particularly pricing strategies in order to break into the marketplace. Each team faced tough questioning about how they would tackle financial difficulties and how they would overcome problems such as security. After a thorough discussion of the teams’ strengths and weaknesses, the panel went back into ‘the boardroom’ to name the overall winner.

The winning team were Team Fusion, made up of Junaid Ahmed, Usman Mohammed, Zahwaar Hussain and Hassan Farid – who wanted to use one of the empty units to set up a ticket office for an events management company, which had a focus on community cohesion. Their company would arrange events utilising Nelson’s existing facilities, such as the ACE Centre for Open Mic nights and Comedy Evenings.

Section Leader for Business at the College, Justine Thatcher said, “All of the Business and IT students who took part in the competition worked incredibly hard over the 3 days to produce high quality and innovative business pitches. I was so proud of all the students for their professionalism and commitment to the project and was thrilled to see just how much they impressed the panel! There were 3 worthy finalists who will get the chance to pitch their ideas again in the future as they have been invited to meet with chiefs at Pendle Borough Council to discuss their ideas for the Portas Pilot!”

Azhar Siddique was similarly impressed with the students’ business acumen and said “I have been really impressed with the quality of presentations. At their age, I would have found it difficult to stand before a panel and speak with so much confidence. I’d like to know which one of the students is applying for next year’s Apprentice TV show!”