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Businesses pick out college students ‘with the right attitude’ for special training

PUBLISHED: 17:14 16 October 2018

Neil Foley of Business Growth Hub. Picture: Mark Shields

Neil Foley of Business Growth Hub. Picture: Mark Shields


A unique collaboration between a non-profit business group and West Suffolk College is aiming to shape up entrepreneurial mindsets for the world of work.

Neil FoleyNeil Foley

Neil Foley is the founder of Business Growth Club, a support service for micro and small business owners with 150 members in Norfolk and Suffolk.

He claims that although East Anglia is a “vibrant part of the world, with almost zero unemployment” his members “really struggle with finding the right kind of employees.”

“The skills gap is often an attitude problem with today’s youth,” he explained.

“Its not just about qualifications. We business owners are all saying the same thing - that we want people with the right attitude.”

Mr Foley claims that young people these days sometimes lack the right social skills, a problem he blames on their relationship with modern technology.

“They find it difficult to have conversations with people, and sometimes have issues with punctuality.

“Given how competitive the world of business is, we need to deliver outstanding service to stand a chance in today’s world and that’s why employers get so frustrated.”

Mr Foley has teamed up with PLACE 21 (Project-based Learning Approach to Community and Employment in the 21st Century), an initiative within West Suffolk College intended to prepare its 300 further education students for their future careers.

The collaboration with Business Growth Club enables 15 students to get cherry-picked, “based on their attitude and aptitude, not academic qualifications,” for a work experience programme which will run from January until May.

The students will be based at Business Growth Club members’ small businesses - which specialise in fields ranging from HR to IT - and from there, they will provide general admin and sales help.

“Its an opportunity for students with the right attitude to get involved in local business and know what makes them tick,” Mr Foley explained.

“Most business people say the attitude they want to see is positive, upbeat, and wanting to engage so we pick students based on these qualities.”

The students will also undertake ten online business modules and attend five ‘Gold Club Masterclasses’ that Mr Foley runs over a two week period.

“We haven’t watered down the modules, they are the same modules that our small business owners take,” Mr Foley explained. “Many of the students will then go onto higher education, so it all helps with their UCAS forms.”

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