St Albans’ “dragons” help student apprentices raise cash for charities

The students listen to the opening speeches

The students listen to the opening speeches - Credit: Archant

Over the next four months, 16 teams of teenagers from schools and colleges across St Albans and Harpenden will test their business acumen by turning £100 into £1,000 or more for their nominated charities, with the help of local “dragons”.

St Columba’s College, King Harry Lane, hosted the launch of this year’s Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge last Wednesday, where the teams met VIPs including St Albans Mayor Cllr Geoff Harrison and Harpenden Town Mayor Cllr Mary Maynard.

Now in its sixth year, the St Albans-based challenge has already raised £105,000 for more than 50 local charities and community groups, including Youth Talk and the Wendy Gough Cancer Foundation.

Cllr Harrison said the students, aged 16 and 17, “quickly gain confidence and skills to help equip them for the next stage of their lives and often identify special areas of interest that can be career defining.”

He described the challenge as “unique” in the way it brought together schools, charities and local businesses.

Using their £100 seed capital, and with support and guidance from business mentors and charities, the school teams are tasked with generating income through business-based activities, enabling them to gain experience in time-management, teamwork, sales and marketing.

In a recent survey, 86 per cent of previous participants said they took part because they felt it would help their future career, while 68 per cent wanted to do something good for charity.

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Penny Mortimer, who created the challenge, said: “Many businesses have been so impressed by their young apprentices that they’ve offered work experience or support in their career development.”

Following its success in St Albans, the Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge now covers the whole of Herts.