News & Events

Friday 20 March, 2015


Another successful year for The Real Business Challenge

This week saw the culmination of Coca-Cola Enterprises’ (CCE) 2014/15 Real Business Challenge (RBC) - our national enterprise education competition. We spoke to Bill Muirhead, Senior Manager of Coca-Cola Enterprises’ Education Programme, to discuss the growing success of the Real Business Challenge.

I’ve been involved with the programme for several years now, and this year’s programme has been bigger and better than ever, taking in eleven venues and reaching out to over 75,000 young people across Great Britain. Linked to the curriculum, the RBC inspires 13-15 year olds to tackle a business task set by us, and allows them to experience work related learning first hand and gain real-life insight into professional life.

Business and Education sectors must work in collaboration with one another.

This year’s RBC saw the National Final spread out across two days. With a Parliamentary Reception preceding the final itself, the successful students from each of the eleven regional finals met MPs, business leaders and senior figures from within CCE. Guests heard from Steve Adams, Director of Supply Chain Operations at CCE, who called for greater collaboration between Government and industry to support the development of young people’s business aspirations, before a talk by VIP guest Nick Boles, Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Enterprise. The interest in this year’s programme in Parliament indicates the RBC’s great strides in recent years, and is something I’m extremely proud of.

Coca-Cola Enterprises’ commitment to community investment.

For a second year we partnered with Special Olympics GB, students were tasked to develop a campaign to raise funds and support for local Special Olympics athletes attending the World Games in Los Angeles later this year. One of the highlights of this year’s national final was a panel session with Special Olympians, Ben Kelly and Georgina Maton . Students were able to question the athletes and took great inspiration from their experiences overcoming adversity and achieving sporting success. And of course this is a real project with a real outcome - each of the 11 regional winners will see their Special Olympics campaigns come to life through bus stop posters in their school’s local area. This aspect, together with coverage celebrating students’ successes in regional newspapers across the country, really nurtures a sense of local pride in what the students achieve.

The Real Business Challenge as an Education initiative.

Supported by a dedicated Education Programme team, the RBC forms a core part of CCE’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability commitments. Our £4m investment since 2011 in education initiatives such as the RBC helps to provide a bridge between learning in schools, and that next stage of broadening students’ horizons as to what opportunities are available to them. It is in all of our interests to support the development of young people – to develop the skills that are central to success – not only in businesses such as ours, but in any line of work. It really is inspiring to see our potential leaders of tomorrow tackle the challenges of the RBC head on, with remarkable results.

Continuing our focus to develop essential skills for the success of young people in GB.

Now in its eleventh year, the Real Business Challenge continues to evolve, and enrich the academic lives of students across the country. Inclusion is very much at the forefront of the RBC’s priorities and this year it was extended to Special Educational Needs students, as well as the development of an adapted version for Modern Foreign Language students. The programme supports schools in delivering work-related learning and enterprise, and helps young people develop those all-important soft skills that employers look for. Research commissioned by McDonald’s recently showed that by 2020 over half a million UK workers will be significantly held back by a lack of soft skills and that three-quarters of employers believe there is already a gap in the UK workforce (www.backingsoftskills.co.uk).

We welcome such awareness raising research and believe that programmes like the RBC have an important part to play in addressing this issue. We support calls for more professional competencies and employability skills to be taught to students, and I hope that the RBC will be officially recognised in the Enterprise Passport scheme proposed by Lord Young’s review of Enterprise Education.  With this sort of support and the continued backing of teachers and schools across Great Britain, alongside the unwavering dedication of CCE employees who volunteer to help to facilitate the programme, the Real Business Challenge’s future focus continues to be fully committed to supporting students on developing their enterprise skills.

Bill Muirhead

Senior Manager, Education Programme EU

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