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Dragon opens business skills academy


Dragons' Den star and millionaire entrepreneur Peter Jones has this week launched the UK's first National Enterprise Academy (NEA).

Yesterday saw the launch of the NEA - the most recent government-backed skills academy, fronted by Dragons' Den judge, Peter Jones.

Billed as "pioneering a new and innovative way of teaching", the NEA hopes to see 18,000 students aged 16 to 19 pass through its doors during its first five years and change young people's understanding of the conventional routes into the workplace.

While the project has been funded by Jones it has received a £9m cash boost from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills which in turn has been matched by employers.

Speaking at a launch event in London on Monday, Jones was optimistic about the impact the Skills Academy would have on young people and their aspirations: "In the UK, we need to foster amongst our young people an 'I can' rather than a 'Can I?' attitude. That is not to say we do not already possess a great deal of young talent in Britain – far from it. But up until now, we have simply not done enough to unlock the entrepreneurial talents of our young people.

"There is arguably no better time to create a National Enterprise Academy than during a recession. The UK needs entrepreneurs to stimulate the economy and businesses need inspired employees to help their companies recover quickly."

Prior to the launch, the NEA operated a six-month pilot programme involving 28 students. Of those who took part, seven have established their own businesses while five have been offered jobs by "high profile organisations".

The Academy is also being backed by the government who believe that the courses at the NEA will provide "a sound theoretical understanding of business planning, marketing, accounting, financial planning and market research and will, more importantly, capture the true essence of financial entrepreneurialism". 

The NEA is part of a national network of 16 skills academies, 12 of which are currently active.

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