Apprentice star brings ‘hire’ learning to Lothian college

SHE has battled Britain’s toughest boss.

Now Apprentice contestant Sharon McAllister is planning to use her experience to find Scotland’s next Lord Sugar – in a Lothian college.

The entrepreneur has devised a six-month course which replaces traditional classroom teaching with business breakfasts and contact-building.

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Twelve apprentices, aged between 16 and 19, will be selected for the “Scotland’s Next Millionaire” course, run by Jewel and Esk College, which starts next month.

By the end of the six months, it is hoped they will leave the college with successful businesses.

Ms McAllister, who made it to the final stages in series two of The Apprentice, said: “Rather than going into the classrooms and being taught business, we are trying to make it more entrepreneurial and classes will be business breakfasts and meetings instead.

“We want the students to take an idea from conception and try and get it up and running.

“We will weave the course work into this so that not only are they going to come out with a qualification, but they will have work experience and hopefully a business.”

Jewel and Esk is now recruiting its first set of applicants for the pilot project.

Ms McAllister, who is head of centre for enterprise and entrepreneurship at the college, said: “What I’m looking for is commitment and a hunger to succeed.

“Maybe it will be people who decided that school wasn’t for them, or working in an office wasn’t for them. If we can get them on the right track and inspire them, hopefully they can be the next generation of Tom Hunters and Tom Farmers and Michelle Mones.”

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As well as having Ms McAllister as their mentor, the budding entrepreneurs will also be helped with their ideas by other local businessmen and women.

For those struggling to come up with their own ideas, the college has two business ideas to allow them to “hit the ground running” – one being a social media company providing marketing services and the second a concierge service for members of the on-campus gym.

The course is being run in conjunction with the city council’s Edinburgh Guarantee, which was launched in response to rising levels of youth unemployment.

Council chief executive Sue Bruce said: “This new course will provide an excellent opportunity for young people to develop entrepreneurial skills which will enable them to achieve success and Jewel and Esk College is to be congratulated on this initiative.”