Enterprising Aylsham High students impress government minister

Young entrepreneurs demonstrated that Norfolk's future is in safe hands as they showed off their business skills to an impressed government minister today.

Students from Aylsham High School sold home-made cakes and gifts as part of the school's enterprise week under the watchful - and hungry - eye of business and enterprise minister Mark Prisk.

Mr Prisk then heard from the school's Young Chamber about its links with local businesses, and bought raffle tickets to support a fund-raising initiative by some students to support an overseas charity.

The minister used the visit to reaffirm the government's pledge to promote the recruitment of 2,500 local enterprise champions through its Inspiring the Future website.

But, during a question and answer session, he was given a grilling about why it was so difficult for young people in Norfolk to find apprenticeships.

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Young Chamber member Alex Ridgway said: 'I don't want to go to college, I want to get straight out there and do an aircraft engineering apprenticeship. But why is it so hard to find one in Norfolk?'

Mr Prisk acknowledged there had been a 'shortage' of apprenticeships, but said the government had put an additional �180m into them to take the number up to 440,000, and would continue to increase funding.

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At the end of the visit, Mr Prisk said the Aylsham High students were an 'exemplar of what's going on in terms of enterprise'.

He said: 'You are never to young to develop a spirit of enterprise. Working for yourself is something most of you will be doing as careers change in the coming years.

'I have been inspired today. To meet your generation and see what you are doing is brilliant.'

Aylsham High is an outstanding-rated school with a specialism in business and enterprise and applied learning.

It was one of the pilot schools for the Young Chamber scheme, which sees students making links with businesses by setting up business breakfasts and linked projects.

Headteacher Duncan Spalding said proceeds from the enterprise week sales were going to Children in Need.

He said: 'They have made these products at home and are selling them in the school.'

He added: 'Enterprise is absolutely essential. It leads to problem solving, analytical skills and innovation. For many youngsters it unlocks something inside them that they didn't know was there.

'In Norfolk, there is an increasing need for people to be enterprising and innovative.'

Emmalucy Auber and Adam Turrell, who are from the school's business and enterprise department, said: 'The work of the department team and our outstanding Young Chamber allows the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish.'

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