Future Business Magnates (FBM), one of Business Durham’s many activities, supports several businesses in County Durham by linking them to schools.
Businesses of all shapes and sizes clearly see the benefits of getting involved with FBM. Aycliffe manufacturers Ebac have been keen ambassadors for a number of years, while recruitment firm Temp Team led on Greenfield School's win in 2013.
Ebac Managing Director Pamela Petty commented that it was “really important for local business and schools to know and understand each other, from the head teacher and owner/MD to the teachers and managers to the students and staff. The best way is for the students and staff to work together, and FBM is a great framework for this to happen. Students get an insight into the different types of business there are locally and the different types of jobs, by thinking of an idea for a business and then working as a team to prepare a business plan to execute that idea. In many cases the students actually put the business into practice and make and sell. For Ebac, the staff who mentor the students are challenged by taking them out of their comfort zone in their work place and working with the students to guide them through the FBM process, keeping them motivated and on track isn't always easy - but it's always worthwhile. It's tremendous to see a group of students that at the start have nothing in common other than attending the same school make the transition into a slick team, all working towards a shared goal. Just like in the world of work!"
SMEs may argue it's easier for larger companies like Ebac to afford resource to work in FBM but try saying that to Trevor Forsyth, Managing Director of Inspection & Engineering Services (IES). Trevor, while also juggling the demands of running his highly-successful Ju Jitsu Club in Aycliffe has been a business partner for two years. "It was a great experience," said Trevor, "Working with the kids, finding out some of their ideas and encouraging them to develop their own ideas and nurturing them to develop that. I think it's massively important for businesses to get involved in things like this, as well as hugely rewarding. Some of these kids have some great ideas. It won't lead to business for all of them, but it may well instigate something within them to push forward in school or later on in life."
ICT teacher Simon Tait also praised the competition: “We've had a lot of success in the past and it's great for the young people to carry on that legacy. The competition is invaluable. The students can have a contact in the real world and see how things work, and the businesses can come and see what we're doing in school and to have that interaction with the students, it makes it all gel together."
Durham County Council chairman (2014–15), Councillor John Robinson, thinks FBM is hugely important to the County. He said: "We've seen 200 young people go through this year and they've come up with some magnificent programmes and products - many businesses would have loved to come up with some of the ideas. Having spoken to the schools, the children have learned so much from the businesses, ready for when they move on to taking their GCSEs and, later, further education. But the businesses have also gained from the children and their enthusiasm, and what the future generation wants. A lot of companies have told me they're going to change the way they do things after learning what they have from FBM, so both sides have learned a lot from working together. And we've even had a company say they're going to take on board one of the winning schemes. You don't need Dragon's Den in County Durham!"