Trevor Stanley has taken part in the E-enterprise programme for unemployed and older adults. The E-enterprise programme is a unique combination of technology updating and enterprise skills. It is designed to support unemployed and older adults start a new business using an innovative mix of online learning and face to face workshops as well as supporting existing small businesses keep up to date with technology changes in the workplace to support their enterprise. The programme has been running on the Isle of Wight by Coralesce ltd funded by Isle of Wight Council as part of its sub-contracted adult & community learning provision. The programme has been run in partnership with key stakeholder organisations such as the Shaw Trust (reaching out to unemployed adults), Ventnor Enterprise Centre (reaching out to older adults) and Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce (reaching out to small businesses). Commencing in September 2015 it has reached 18 unemployed/ older adults of which 8 have started a business and 34 small businesses. The focus of the enterprise programme for unemployed adults is 5 skills units as follows: Generating a Business Idea; Assessing own ability to run a business: Financial Considerations; Marketing and Sales and developing a Digital Footprint. The focus of the programme for small businesses is using technologies to increase your capability to do business such as online meeting technologies.

Prior to undertaking the programme Trevor was the main carer for his elderly parents over a 6 year period. This was emotionally and physically demanding particularly coping with dementia. After their death Trevor needed to plan his future. As a 50 year old man he found it really difficult to find an employer given his age and time away from the labour market as a carer. He saw an article in the local paper about the course and was keen to see if self-employment was for him given his circumstances. The programme was designed for older adults or those who were unemployed and faced barriers to the labour market.  The fee of £20 was affordable as he was on tax credits and covered six weeks of study over an 8 week period. The course enabled him to explore his business idea and the skills needed to develop for business start-up. His business idea was to renovate antique and vintage furniture using traditional methods and selling direct to customers or to antique dealers. There were 8 in his group and the course involved 3 hour workshops based at the Shaw Trust in Newport. He covered a range of units and also had guest speakers from the business community. It was helpful that all the members of the group were committed to getting off benefits and creating self-employment which meant that there was strong peer group support. He found the course helped him to :

-formulate a business plan;

-understand costing and pricing;

-develop a marketing strategy; and

-gain insight into promoting my business using social media.

Since doing the course he has been regularly renovating and successfully selling furniture and gaining a reputation for high quality restorations through recommendations. The course really helped him to build his confidence and focus and his wife has commented “that he seems like a different person”. He is much more pro-active in moving things forward and recognising what he can achieve and realising his potential. He is much more aware of the benefits of social media and its potential for all businesses. After the course ended Trevor went for a job interview and was successfully appointed as an Executive officer in the Civil Service.

Trevor stated “I would certainly recommend the programme to anyone that was in my situation. It was an important building block to planning my future. My next steps are to continue the business but also get part-time employment to enable me to secure a regular income to support my family. Since doing the course I have also attended job interviews and I now believe I have a successful economic future.”

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Christina Conroy
Director of Coralesce at Coralesce Ltd
Director of Coralesce Ltd, passionate about lifelong learning, #edtech, @techwomenuk and being by the sea. Christina is a Director and Partner in Coralesce ltd, a curriculum development agency that works with awarding organizations, educational providers and funding agencies to develop enterprising and innovative new learning journeys to inspire a 21st century workforce.