There is growing interest in the annual Classroom to Boardroom (C2B) programme, and organizers are hoping to at least double the level of participation in coming years.
This year, 27 students will take part in the initiative which will see them having to find a solution to a business challenge. At the end of the week, they will present and discuss those solutions in groups.
The C2B, which was introduced six years ago by the Rotary Club of Barbados and is done in collaboration with the Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF), targets students ages 14 to 25.
Each year, a new company is chosen for the students to gain work experience, while approaching a challenge. This year, Harris Paints was selected.
“Some of the objectives are to provide increased understanding of business operations and what it is like to work in a real-life business, and give the students an opportunity to participate in an actual life business assignment,” explained director of vocational services at the Rotary Club, Michael Forde as he addressed the official launching ceremony of the programme this morning at Harris Paints’ Wildey, St Michael office.
“It will increase the students’ skills and augment their school learning experience and, hopefully, enhance their employment potential for the future.”
Students from the Barbados Community College (BCC), Harrison College, Lodge School and Codrington School will take part in the programme this year.
Chief executive officer of the BEF Celeste Foster said this year was the “easiest” to get students on board, pointing out that some teachers were reluctant in previous years.
In fact, Foster said, there were more than 70 applicants vying for the original 25 slots.
“This year, we had a phenomenal experience with regards to getting the students on board,” she said.
Chairman of the BEF Chris de Caires said he believed the number of students in the programme could at least double, adding that the BEF caters for approximately 500 students in all its programmes.
“Our target in the next few years is to at least affect and interact with about 1 000 students. So, we need to more than double this in the next two or three years.
“The only way we are going to do that is partner with more leading companies . . . that can see the value. The demand is there. We have created a bit of demand. So now we need the support to make it happen throughout the year,” said de Caires.
He said while it was not the intention of the BEF for all students to start their own businesses, he hoped more people would become enterprising.
Chief executive officer of Harris Paints Ian Kenyon welcomed the C2B opportunity, saying at the end of the challenge the successful group would be granted an internship at the paint company.
“Today, Barbados needs more and more entrepreneurs with the business skills to succeed and to help Barbados to continue to punch beyond its size,” he said.