Working together to create a spirit of enterprise in Dorset
The delivery of the Enterprising Dorset Project has now ended and we are delighted to be able to report that it has been a very successful programme.
The Enterprising Dorset Project was jointly funded by WSX Enterprise and the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership. Its primary aim was to foster an enterprise culture and capability particularly amongst young people, community and voluntary sector organisations and new and established businesses – all of whom have the potential to contribute to the development of the economy inDorset.
“Enterprise capability is …the ability to handle uncertainty and respond positively to change, to create and implement new ideas and new ways of doing things, to make reasonable risk/reward assessments and act upon them in a variety of contexts, both personal and work”. The Howard Davies Review (2002)
How was the project delivered?
A series of events have been delivered that targeted the specific needs of each sector. The table below summarises the activities and engagement levels achieved during the programme.
|Sector||Activity||Participants (no.)||Customer Satisfaction (avg.)|
(Schools, FE & HE)
|Enterprise Activity days and
Business Start-Up Awareness
|Essential Business Skills workshops||48||97.7%|
|Business||Wake Up Your Business workshops||133||100%|
|New Business||Start-up Training||47||100%|
Did we achieve our aims?
The level of interest, engagement and satisfaction achieved throughout the programme certainly exceeded our output targets and expectations, but this only tells part of the story.
We evaluated each activity throughout the programme to assess whether there had been any real benefit to the participants.
Our aims were:
- To inspire young people to develop the capability to take control of their opportunities and to have the confidence and skills
to do so.
- To help and support community and voluntary sector organisations to acquire the knowledge and skills that will lead to
sustainable operating models.
- To challenge businesses to develop an enterprising culture and the skills that will improve their fitness to thrive in a
The feedback form the participants suggests that in terms of immediate impact, we have indeed met these aims.
Highlights from the evaluation include:
- Over 75% of school students felt they had learned something new at the Enterprise Activity days – how to develop a business idea and work on an implementation plan, how to work as a team and make a contribution and even how to lead a team. 86% of these young people are now more interested in developing their business skills further, 77% are more interested in starting their own business and 63% are more interested in working for a small local company.
Comments from the students included:
“Very enjoyable and enriching – has really sparked my interest and provided me with confidence in my leadership skills”
“To be a successful entrepreneur you don’t have to be a straight As students”
“You can do anything you want, all you have to do is work hard”.
- Teachers felt the Enterprise Activity days were very worthwhile both in terms of immersing the students in business and enterprise but also in helping the young people discover and develop additional skills:
“They learned the soft skills needed to work in a team and meet tight deadlines”
“I was able to see the confidence of the students really grow during the session. The starting point was ‘I don’t think I can do this’ to eventually taking a full role in all the activities and presentations”.
- All of FE students who attended the start-up awareness workshops felt they had benefited. They were more aware of what was involved in becoming self employed or starting a business and understood more about how to plan their business idea to turn it into a reality. All felt better informed about their choices and although not all will go onto to start a business, they felt that they now knew where to go to get further help. “An eye opener”
- All of the HE students who attended our business start-up training felt that they had gained real benefit, most rating the course as excellent, and they had clear action points to take forward as they developed their plans for their new enterprises.
“I’ve learnt all the small things you need to know that make up the bigger picture of starting a business. A huge amount of excellent information”
“It was an amazing help”.
Community and Voluntary Sector
- 97% of Voluntary and Community Sector organisations felt that they had benefited from the workshops and had learned new skills that they could take back and implement in their organisations, but the greatest impact was felt by social enterprises and the larger voluntary organisations. The satisfaction levels were particularly high for the pricing and finance workshop – always harder to fill but highly valued by participants.
“We now recognise the importance of business skills.”
“Really useful, even the cash flow stuff. I now have a better understanding”.
“Thank you for an enlightening morning on aspects of business I knew very little about”.
- 95% of business owners felt they had gained real benefit from attending the workshops and had picked up specific action points to implement in their business. Businesses appreciated the high quality speakers and topics as well as the opportunity to meet with other similar business owners.
Although the Project has now finished, we have been exploring how we can continue to support some of the young people we have engaged with. Several of the participants who attended the start-up training at Bournemouth University have been identified as having high growth potential and have been taken forward on to our specialised workshops for high growth businesses. We are also looking at ways to support students who attended the Business Start-up Awareness workshops and who are now keen to develop their business idea through our New in Business Programme.
In addition, we have been working with Dorset County Council and Budmouth College to support the work they are doing in linking local employers with schools and hope this will be a lasting legacy for the Enterprising Dorset project.
Lessons for the future
The focus of this project has been working with young people and this area provided the steepest learning curve for us. One of the key learning points has been the difficulties of adding extra activities into a busy academic year at short notice. Any future work in this area should take into account the need to begin working and planning with academic institutions near the beginning of the academic year so that activities can be more easily scheduled around the demands of the curriculum and exam/assessment schedules.
If you would like more details about the Enterprising Dorset Project please contact Liz Wright 01202 607532