Interview with Charles Cracknell -Employment and Youth Enterprise Manager – Hull City Council Training

I came across Charles Cracknell, thanks to Global Entrepreneurship Week and seeing his activity on Social Networking sites on Facebook. After exchanging a few e-mails I asked if I could interview him. The outcome is below.

There is a lot to learn from and emulate in what he is doing.

1. What are your responsibilities with respect to entrepreneurship support in schools and universitiies?

In general my role is develop and support the development of the City of Hull’s entrepreneurial culture so we work in all of the schools and colleagues at the University in order to do this. We run a programme for under 11’s were a business loans a group of young people £150 and they have to turn it into a profit using 13 Enterprise Schools. For 13 year olds we run a programme with out football and rugby club in which they get an enterprise qualification and learn about the clubs as a business not just about the players. Then we give grants and business advice to young people. Going to others for advice about their business could be difficult for some people; however, everyone needs support when developing their enterprise, which is why business advisory services similar to The Alternative Board exist.

2. It’s hard to measure the impact of activities that are designed to change mentality opinion and values. What are simple ways of being sure that your work is successful ?

You are right we tend to use case studies as evidence which are invaluable showing how the young person has adapted the enterprise skills we promote, also we ask the young people to be ambassadors for us which is the most successful way of showing how we are doing

3. What are the best examples of low budget high impact projects that you recommend for people organisations in other parts of the world to try

Our giving of loans to young people in schools with the support of a business mentor is certainly the lowest cost budget wise. However our Youth Enterprise Bank that gives on average £500 with general business support has achieved great success and this is lowcost at £137K going to over 200 young people. Much of this is funded via fundraisers and donations from Hull’s business community for instance KC a telecommunications company has just agreed to give us £20K a year for three years to give as grants.

4. What are the biggest barriers to getting your message through to young people, and how do you overcome them?

There own limitations which once they realise they are enterprising everyday in what they do and show they can be a success we can overcome the barriers easy.

5.Who else in your support network are important allies, how do you find them and how do they help?

Every one of our 60 odd partners are important allies but the most important are the young entreprenurs we have helped in the past as they are very willing to put something back.

6. Do other towns and local governments in the UK (or internationally) that have equivalents of you? and are there any events, places, on line networks through which we can reach them

Yes there are people with similar roles to me in the UK in particular in Yorkshire area who we work with via for our area – we work in particular with Rotherham who have helped us with our enterprise culture agenda and our primary enterprise person is employed by them but managed by me it’s a great partnership

7. What are examples of people/projects that don’t work well or have a negative impact what are dangers signs to look out for. We notice that sometimes a lot of money is spend on activities that have rather limited impact

I would agree in general any programme that is not about the individual and about numbers / bums on seats in my view does not create a cultural change or inspire

8. What are your biggest challenges and goals for the next five years.

To keep things together will be a challenge with a range of cut backs that are taking place, my biggest goal though is to persuade the banks to to give full business bank account privillages and support to those young people who set up in business or want to set up in business as after all if they get them young they will have good customers in the future.

9. What advice you would give to people who have similar responsibilities to you ?

Do not give in its worth it in the end and by developing an enterprise culture amongst young people you can change how your area develops as an economic power house using the imagination and drive of your young people

10. Does the current economic climate negatively impact the budget available for the work you do, or do cut backs simply mean there is more need to be creative in identifying supporting projects that don’t need much funding

Certainly it’s a challenge and we will step up to it with the support of partners and the city’s business community, we are looking to establish an enterprise club with Jobcentreplus for the Under 18’s in Hull so we can start working with young people who maybe only route into the labour market is through self employment.

11 Is there anything that we can do to help you, or are there projects which could work well with a partner in another part of Europe?

To my mind anything is possible as we have a large Polish Community in Hull and would welcome any proposals you might have maybe you could come over sometime

This I am not sure of but we are always looking to develop new links across Europe and explore ways of working with new colleagues

“Taking part in enterprise education at school doubles the likelihood of a person starting a business, showing that entrepreneurs really can be made with the right support and encouragement.”


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