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Student skills go under the hammer

Charles Hurst
Sophie Henry (Hazelwood Integrated College), Cody Kennedy (Malone College), Colin McNab (Charles Hurst), Tom Donnelly (Belfast Royal Academy) and Emine-Imo Ottong (Methodist College).
Rebecca Kincade on April 18, 2014 - 3:30 pm in News

A savvy group of Belfast students have landed paid summer work placements with Charles Hurst, after coming out on top in an Apprentice-style competition which tested their entrepreneurial talent, wits and skill.

The competition, which was organised in partnership with Business in the Community (BITC), saw teams of students from four of Belfast’s biggest schools pitching their worth to Charles Hurst’s Operations Director – and judge – Colin McNab.

As part of the exercise, each team was awarded £500 pounds to enhance the value of their chosen used car with a view to making a profit for their school once the vehicle sold at auction.

The teams were given a real taste of this exciting and ever-changing business by going head-to-head in a live auction at Wilson’s Auctions, Mallusk, seeing Malone College aided by their mentor Robert Currie come out on top with a £220 profit on their Jeep Cherokee.

However, in a big departure from the format used by the popular reality TV programme where only one apprentice is ‘hired’ – judge Colin McNab was so impressed with the talent on show that he decided to take on four students from the schools which took part – Sophie Henry from Hazelwood Integrated College, Cody Kennedy from Malone College, Tom Donnelly from Belfast Royal Academy and Emine-Imo Ottong from Methodist College.

The four students can now look forward to a once-in-a-lifetime placement opportunity to acquire new skills and knowledge by working across a number of key divisions at Charles Hurst during their summer holidays and get paid for their efforts.

Each team that took part in the challenge was provided with a designated mentor from Charles Hurst who both assisted and advised them in their task, while acting as the eyes and ears for the judging panel and reporting back to Colin McNab on their individual and team performances.

Charles Hurst Group Operations Director Colin McNab said:

“We’re always up for a challenge at Charles Hurst and through this important community initiative, we had the great pleasure to work with a remarkable group of individuals who went to great lengths to show off their individual skills and tenacity while working as part of a team. As Northern Ireland’s largest car retailer, we know that our most important asset is our staff and we’re really excited to see that the next generation of school-leavers are prepped and ready to go.

“Everyone who took part deserves great credit for putting so much into the process. We’re delighted with the result and we look forward to welcoming our four new ‘apprentices’ on board.”

Charles Hurst delivered the competition in partnership with Business In The Community, a membership organisation which supports companies that are committed to doing business responsibly and working together on issues where they can make a real difference. Business in the Community Business Development Executive Andrew Wallace said the competition not only tested every student’s skills and abilities but was also a great motivator as these young people started to consider their future careers and aspirations.

He commented: “This competition has been a tremendous success and we’re thrilled that not just one – but four – of the students who took part were recognised for the role they played. A paid apprenticeship at Charles Hurst is a real reward for their efforts and will provide these individuals with yet another great opportunity to extend their skills and experience and add to their eagerness to succeed.

“Business in the Community is thrilled to have been directly involved in this worthwhile initiative and we would encourage other companies to think about creative ways to engage and support the future workforce and inspire young people about the career options open to them”.


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