Students from across the Mid North Coast are taking part in the Illuminate:nextgen Challenge learning how to build a business from the ground up.
Sixty-five high school students from Port Macquarie and Tuncurry are taking part in the challenge at Charles Sturt University which runs from September 2 - 6.
The week-long education challenge is designed to help students discover what it takes to become an entrepreneur.
Associate Dean (Research) of the Charles Sturt Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences professor Mark Morrison said it is an exciting opportunity for young people.
"The program is all about giving the students a problem and getting them to build a business case to help solve it," professor Morrison said.
"We went and asked the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council what one of their biggest issues was and they said attracting and retaining young people in the area.
"From there we are getting students to come up with an idea to fix this problem."
During the program, students will explore contemporary issues facing Australian businesses, Australia's changing workforce and the new skills and capabilities that are required to succeed in the modern workplace.Mark Morrison
Year nine and 10 students from Heritage Christian School, Mackillop College, St Joseph's Regional, St Columba Anglican School and Great Lakes College Tuncurry are participating in the challenge.
Professor Morrison said although the focus was on learning how to create a business students would be learning a wide range of skills.
"As a university we are investing in our community and helping our young people develop skills they can use throughout the life," he said.
"During the program, students will explore contemporary issues facing Australian businesses, Australia's changing workforce and the new skills and capabilities that are required to succeed in the modern workplace.
"This week students will be working in teams and will need to learn marketing strategies as well as how to negotiate, work as part of a team and how to lead a group."
Students will be challenged to develop and pitch new ideas and businesses that will encourage younger people to stay in the Mid North Coast region.
Jackson Petrou from Heritage Christian School said it was a great opportunity to learn more about creating a business.
"So far it has been really fun and I think it is a great opportunity for students to start thinking about things in the real world," Jackson said.
"It is true that Port Macquarie does lack a variety of things for young people to do so getting us to think about what could possibly change that is great.
"We are also learning valuable skills in teamwork and problem solving which will be useful when we go back to school."
Students are being supported throughout the challenge by skilled facilitators, academics from Charles Sturt, business leaders, and members from local government and the community.
Jinuki Senanayake is a year 10 student at St Columba Anglican School and said she was loving the program.
"At school I study commerce and I did that because it seemed like a subject that would equip me for life after school," Jinuki said.
"It is an interesting thing to be able to look at a real world problem and I am glad I can participate in the challenge.
"I am excited to build our business idea and then have to pitch it to everyone. We have had to brainstorm what idea we think will work best which is something else I have enjoyed."
It is an interesting thing to be able to look at a real world problem and I am glad I can participate in the challenge.Jinuki Senanayake
The Illuminate:nextgen Challenge was designed by Australian entrepreneur Adam Mostogl to enable students to develop solutions to issues within their community and the world through exploring the root challenges and researching them, brainstorming solutions, and then refining these solutions.
Illuminate:nextgen Challenge program facilitator Dave Kewley said it was fascinating watching the students completing the program.
"The program itself takes students through creating an idea, how to build that idea into a business case, how to market that idea and how to go about boosting their new business," Mr Kewley said.
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