Dragon breathes life into enterprise

Four specialist academies gain Pounds 8k a piece. Peter Jones, the businessman star of Dragons' Den, celebrated with students this week after pulling off his latest deal - setting up a new centre to promote entrepreneurial skills among young people.

Steve Hook

The National Academy for Enterprise will help its students to become self- starting employees or even entrepreneurs in their own right - and some of those who will benefit met Mr Jones on Monday after the deal was confirmed.

Mr Jones is best known for his appearances on Dragons' Den, the show that sees aspiring business people pitching for investment from a panel of multi-millionaire venture capitalists.

The academy will be responsible for training students towards the UK's first level 2 (GCSE-equivalent) and level 3 (A-level-equivalent) qualifications in enterprise.

There will be short and long courses - allowing existing businesses to take advantage of the facilities to improve their own performance.

It is expected that 11,000 students will pass through the centre during its first three years. Some of these will study at the centre's headquarters - planned for somewhere in the South East - and at colleges around the country, as well as online.

The academy will receive Pounds 32 million of start-up funding - Pounds 8m from Government and the rest from businesses.

Peter Jones, who led the bid for the academy, said: "I'm delighted with this commitment from Government to enterprise learning.

"The funding contribution announced today will help us turn our plans for a Pounds 32m learning programme into reality.

"Through powerful public and private sector partnership, we can successfully unlock the talent of Britain's young people and realise the potential of the UK to lead the world in entrepreneurship.

"The new National Academy for Enterprise will focus on developing enterprise and innovation skills to equip the next generation with the skills and confidence they will need to succeed in the modern business world, whether as enterprising employees or starting their own businesses."

Other academies specialising in the power industry, IT and social care were also announced this week. Each will get Pounds 8m.

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Steve Hook

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