Enterprising ESOL students
Students studying the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) course at Cardiff and Vale College have been taking part in workshops this term to learn about setting up and running their own business. The BEESOL (Becoming Enterprising and Employable for Speakers of Other Languages) programme, which has been running since January, has included interactive workshops with local entrepreneurs and personality tests and will culminate in a Trade Fair in April.
At the end of January the students took part in a workshop with four local successful entrepreneurs, known as Dynamo Role Models, who work with Big Ideas Wales bringing enterprise into the classroom. Groups of learners were assigned a Dynamo Role Model and given the task of coming up with a marketing outline for the entrepreneur’s business. The groups then had the opportunity to speak to each entrepreneur in turn before returning to their own Role Model to work on ideas for marketing the product or service and creating a poster. The event gave the students an insight into how the Role Models came up with the idea for their business and what motivated them, how they went about setting up the business, what obstacles they faced and how these were overcome.
Naeem Amir, Director at Cardiff based Accountancy Recruitment firm Accountancy 4 U, talked about the challenges of leaving his job after 10 years in the Recruitment industry to set up his own firm:
“I wanted better opportunities so I decided to set up my own business. It’s a big challenge, I needed a lot of support from family and friends and I also got help from Venture Wales. Going out on my own was hard work - it was frightening but exciting, lonely at times and the first year was tough but everything started to fall into place after that.”
Following this session students completed personality tests and were put into groups based on their strengths. In February the groups took part in another workshop where they were challenged with coming up with a business idea to be run from a stall. They were encouraged to think about researching their market, marketing strategies and finance before taking part in a ‘networking’ session where they interacted with the other groups to try and find scope for working together. The programme will culminate on 4th April with a Trade Fair where the 20 groups will test their ideas by setting up trading stalls in the College’s Parade Hall.
Student Roda Hussein said: “I have really enjoyed the BEESOL programme; it has been fun and inspiring. I loved meeting real entrepreneurs and finding out how they came up with an idea for a business and then how they followed that through. We’ve been learning a lot about how to start your own business and what kinds of things you need to consider. It’s nice to work in a team to come up with ideas and strategies. It’s quite realistic as we’ve been encouraged to work with the other teams the way a real business would be working with other businesses. On our stall we will be charging people to play Xbox games and selling paper flowers which we will make ourselves.
“Two years ago I was asked by an entrepreneur if I had any business ideas and I answered ‘No I don’t like business and I don’t have any ideas.’ This time when I was asked I said that I am studying business and I really enjoy it. The experience has been great, we’ve learned a lot and hopefully we will be successful at the trade fair next month!”
ESOL tutor Liz Reed coordinated the BEESOL programme with help from with Lee Sharma, Enterprise Education Manager at the College Cardiff sites. She said: “Many ESOL learners come to the UK with a massive range of life skills and experience, yet language and lack of cultural awareness is often a barrier to them taking advantage of opportunities to become more involved as citizens of the UK. Therefore, one of the main aims of the ESOL Skills for Life course is to help the ESOL learners empower themselves, particularly to be enterprising and employable.
“We have run several similar events in the past, often with the support of Lee Sharma and the Dynamo Role Models, and the students have always shown a great enthusiasm, particularly as many were entrepreneurs in their own countries. However, many who had never before had experience of running a business have also shown an entrepreneurial aptitude, and attitude, and gone on to study on business-related courses.
“The feedback from the Dynamo Role Models has also been extremely positive, particularly relating to the “buzz” and “brilliant ideas” from ESOL learners at these events. This, along with the fact that we are lucky enough to have several teachers in the ESOL department with business backgrounds, was one of the motivating factors for us running the BTEC Diploma in Business for ESOL students and for recently launching the BTEC Certificate in Vocational Studies alongside Skills for Life.”
Lee Sharma, Enterprise Education Manager for Cardiff college sites said “The ESOL team work tirelessly to develop the life and work skills of their learners. These two events have been built into the ESOL learning programme to encourage these students to become more enterprising and employable (BEE). The first event was aimed at engaging the students by inspiring and motivating them and providing an insight into what it takes to be successful. The second workshop empowers the learners by equipping them with practical employability skills such as creativity, teamwork, communication, etc – with a focus on planning a successful enterprise. The final stage allows students to test out their business skills in a real yet supportive environment.”
The BEE (Becoming Enterprising and Employable) activities and events are funded by the Welsh Government’s Dynamo Enterprise Education Programme. Any profits raised from the trade fair will be pooled and put towards a day trip for ESOL learners.
Well done to all who took part in the trade fair on Wed 4th April where £909.13 was taken in total. Only 1 team out of 24 made a loss (of 14%).
22 teams made over 50% profit
16 teams made over 100% profit
9 teams made over 200% profit
6 teams made over 300% profit
4 teams made over 400% profit
3 teams out of 24 made over 600% profit
The winning team made 843% profit!!