Next generation of entrepreneurs sharpen their skills at Titanic Belfast

More than 500 budding entrepreneurs who set up businesses with Young Enterprise this year marked their achievements at The Big Celebration ’17. Young entrepreneurs from across Northern Ireland gathered at the landmark Titanic Belfast on 5 April, as the charity showcased their work to nurture the next generation of business leaders. Throughout the morning the young people participated in hands-on workshops focused on sharpening the skills they have developed through the Young Enterprise Company and Team programmes, in order to best prepare them for the world of work & business start-up.

Speaking at the event, Derek Baker, Permanent Secretary for the Department of Education said: “One of the priorities of all of us involved in Education is to ensure that school leavers are equipped with the skills they need to succeed in both life and work. If we want to build a vibrant economy, we need to ensure that young people are encouraged to look beyond the traditional career paths.

“The Young Enterprise Programmes, which the Department funds, provide real life opportunities for young people to demonstrate entrepreneurship. Young Enterprise helps forge strong links between local businesses and schools. These are essential in ensuring that there is no ‘skills gap’ and that young people understand the skills and attitudes needed to succeed in the workplace, and in whatever career they choose.”

Guest speaker Philip Bain, co-founder of ShredBank, kicked off the event with an inspiring story about his personal journey. He said: “Young Enterprise does a fantastic and important work in encouraging entrepreneurship amongst young people and so I was delighted to speak at the Young Enterprise Big Celebration event and share my own story with the students.   My company ShredBank has been in business for exactly ten years, and my business partner James Carson and I have learnt a lot on the journey so it was great to get the opportunity to pass on some of those entrepreneurial lessons to the young people that hopefully will be of benefit to them now and in the future.”

The Company and Team Programme graduates had the opportunity to speak to prospective employers and other exhibitors throughout the event. The Tomorrow Lab delivered a workshop to students that outlined the importance of being professional on social media and building your personal brand throughout your education and career. Other workshops gave the young people an opportunity to reflect on what they have learned throughout the past eight months with Young Enterprise, enabling them to develop a bespoke portfolio of skills that they can use to secure employment in the future. Students also heard from ‘The Big Panel’, which saw Young Enterprise Alumni Matthew Thompson, Stephanie Gowdy and Kain Craigs quizzed by host Marc Mallett about how their Young Enterprise experience has helped them succeed.

Young Enterprise organise the annual event as a way of congratulating the students who have taken part in the Company and Team Programmes. The purpose of the format this year is to provide an engaging and educational experience, while ensuring that the young people have relevant skills and are prepared for their next steps. The Big Celebration concluded with an awards ceremony to announce the regional winners of the competition. The regional Company Programme winners will go on to the Northern Ireland Final in May at Belfast City Hall.

Young Enterprise Chief Executive Carol Fitzsimons MBE said:  “We set these young people a challenge back in September to start up a business, and since then we’ve seen some extraordinary ideas and innovative companies.  At The Big Celebration 17 we revealed the top businesses and individuals who have particularly excelled throughout their time working with us. These young people exemplify the entrepreneurial potential that we have here and show why Northern Ireland has been named a European Entrepreneurial Region for 2016/17.”


Read about the coverage in the Irish news here Irish News Young Enterprise Big Celebration 2017

Check out the photos from the event here.


Schools attended:

Ashfield Girls’ High School

Bangor Academy 6th Form College

Beechlawn School

Belfast Boys’ Model School

Belfast High School

Bloomfield Collegiate School

Campbell College

Christian Brothers’ Grammar School

Clifton School

Clounagh Junior High School

Dromore High School

Drumcree College/St John the Baptist’s College

Everton Day Centre

Fleming Fulton School

Friends’ School

Glenlola Collegiate

Killard House School

Knockavoe School

Knockevin Special School

Lagan College

Larne High School

Liberty Consortium @ The Playtrail

Limavady Grammar School

Lisanally Special School

Lismore Comprehensive School

Lumen Christi College

Markethill High School

New-Bridge Integrated College

Omagh Academy

Parkview Special School

Rathmore Grammar School

Regent House Grammar School

Riverside School

Sacred Heart College

South West College

Sperrinview Special School

St Catherine’s College Armagh

St Cecilia’s College

St Colman’s High & Sixth Form College

St Malachy’s College Belfast

St Patrick’s Academy Dungannon

St Patrick’s College Dungannon

St Patrick’s College Banbridge

St Patrick’s Grammar School Armagh

St Paul’s College

Strabane Academy

Wallace High School