Hundreds of entrepreneurial students battle it out to be crowned The National Careers Challenge 2023 Champions!                                   

In their eleventh year of engaging and inspiring young people, The Inspirational Learning Group worked with over 40,000 students across the 2022/23 academic year, culminating in The National Careers Challenge Grands Finals on Wednesday 5th July.

The Inspirational Learning Group (TILG) provides young people with the opportunity to make informed decisions about their futures, providing them with the skills required to begin their journey to career success. The award-winning flagship school delivery programme, The National Careers Challenge (TNCC) allows young people to develop the skills needed to make informed decisions about their futures and this year was in partnership with NatWest, with leading employers Air Products, Airbus and Thorpe Park providing students in Years 7 to 10 with real-life business challenges. 

On Wednesday 5th July, hundreds of students arrived at The ICC in Birmingham ready to present their pitches to our esteemed morning judging panels, made up of representatives from TNCC sponsors and entrepreneurs.  Adorned in costumes and equipped with prototypes and  displays, students from all corners of the UK battled it out in the morning in “Dragons Den” style pitches to our morning judging panels.  Our morning judges had the tough job of shortlisting the top two pitches per year group who would then go on to represent their school in the afternoon’s Grand Finals!

In addition to celebrating the eleventh year of The National Careers Challenge, TILG also celebrated the achievements of 50 students from China through a partnership with SKT Education & Beyond.  The students completed this year’s challenge set by Airbus and the team were thrilled to welcome the students that have travelled to Birmingham to attend this year’s event. 

TILG were also pleased to welcome the shortlisted students from the OCR Cambridge National Enterprise and Marketing Award to the finals event. Shortlisted students presented their pitches to a panel of esteemed judges who were impressed with the slick pitches and innovative ideas.  The winning student was announced on-stage during the afternoon’s final event.  

The team was delighted to welcome back to the TNCC finals, TV magician, presenter and TikTok star Ben Hanlin as this year’s presenter. TILG have worked closely with Ben over the years on varying challenge finals and Ben wowed our audience throughout the Grand Finals with his mind-boggling magic tricks.   Our audience were treated to an amazing performance from Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Abi Carter-Simpson, who performed original songs with her ukelele, all with the message of the importance of following your dreams – very apt for the event and students!

The afternoon’s proceedings began with key-note speeches from Oli de Botton (Chief Executive of The Careers and Enterprise Company) and Rob Law MBE (CEO of the award winning UK business and global brand Trunki), who went on to join our afternoon judging panel.  Our judging panel was made up of Charlotte Turnball (Regional Commercial Manager at Air Products), Nicola Montgomery (UK HR Director at Airbus) and Sean McGovern (Head of Customer & Community Learning at NatWest), who had the unenviable job of deciding upon our TNCC Champions 2023!

Co-founder of TNCC Ben Dyer said, “We were delighted to return to The ICC again following last year’s Grand Finals.  The finals celebrate the achievements of the students that have taken part in the TNCC challenge this year and we would like to thank our 22-23 challenge sponsors; NatWest, Air Products, Airbus and Thorpe Park, who have supported TNCC and students during this academic year.  Each year we aim for a bigger and better event than previous years and this year’s final absolutely lived up to the promise of an event not to be missed and we were blown away by the standard of the students’ pitches – they get better each year!”.

Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise at NatWest said, “NatWest Group is proud to sponsor The National Careers Challenge which brings real-world business skills into schools and gives young people across the country a chance to see where their ideas could take them and what they could achieve. It’s an inspirational initiative that will help make Britain the best country in Europe to start and grow a business. It has been an extremely difficult couple of years for young people across the UK, but through this year’s social enterprise challenge and access to our entrepreneurial skills programme Dream Bigger the finalists demonstrated how society can work, learn and collaborate for the better. We were inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas that this year’s participants displayed in response to the challenge, and I would like to congratulate them all”.

Nicola Montgomery, UK HR Director at Airbus said, “Airbus is proud to sponsor the National Careers Challenge, an engaging and inspiring event that provides students with a unique opportunity to showcase their business & enterprise skills, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. Throughout the competition, students were presented with real-world challenges, pushing them to think critically and apply their knowledge in innovative ways. Airbus challenged teams to create an airline of the future: considering the sustainability of their offering, the unique selling points of their service, and how to market the new airline to customers. I was so impressed and inspired by the ideas they presented and the exceptional talent demonstrated by all the young people who participated in the challenges. A very big well done and congratulations to them all!”.

Lynn Willacy, Community & STEM Ambassador, UK and Ireland at Air Products said “Air Products is very proud to help ‘Inspire the next generation’ by sponsoring The National Careers Challenge again this year. All the finalists who submitted their ideas for the Air Products STEM challenge, which focuses on sustainability and hydrogen for mobility, were of such a high standard that our judges found it very hard to choose the overall winner. The range of different and innovative ideas submitted by the students definitely shows that they will be our scientists and engineers of the future.  Well done to Walton Priory Middle School who were crowned the overall winners!”

A huge congratulations to our winning teams who will join our TNCC Hall of Fame:

Year 7 – Walton Priory Middle School, Staffordshire

Year 8 – St Mary’s Catholic School, Wallasey

Year 9 – Altrincham Girls Grammar School 

Year 10 – The de Ferrers Academy, Staffordshire

International Champions – Shanghai Baoshan WFLS 

OCR Cambridge National Enterprise and Marketing Award Winner – Evie Stannard from St Bernadette Catholic College

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