Students of École Mother Teresa School learned business basics by participating in a number of hands-on activities last Tuesday, all to help prepare them for the working world.
Junior Achievement Southern Alberta regional programs have been in place for 50 years, with various programs running throughout the school year.
The programs target students in Grades 5 through 12, and build upon one another with the aim of making students financially responsible.
Business Basics: Our Business World is taught to Grade 5 students, and through hands-on activities aims to teach them various business skills such as creating and organizing a business plan, business management, resume writing and interviewing skills.
Gregg Broks is a volunteer business teacher for the program and teaches business principles to students by using examples of businesses such as hot dog vendors. He said it’s important that students learn how to market their own businesses with tools such as social media, word-of-mouth communication and print.
“The students learn how easy it is to make money with having your own business,” he said. “It motivates them to explore new options.”
Broks said he enjoys helping children understand how business impacts community, and said they can begin working at an age as young as 12 years old. He’s frequently impressed by how quickly they grasp the concepts of business and entrepreneurship.
“They love the idea, and it opens up a whole world of opportunities to start a business,” he said.
A particular favourite activity among many students centres around pen assembly production, according to program co-ordinator Marie Litwinski. In the activity, students experience the difference between assembling pens through unit production as opposed to in an assembly line.
“They love the challenge of putting together the pens,” said Litwinski. “They like the race and competition. It seems to be the highlight from the program.”
Litwinski said the program’s main purpose is to give students a basic knowledge of what’s required in the workforce, and to inform them at an early age of future business opportunities.
“It’s a good overview to the business world — getting out there, entrepreneurship and how to get out in the workforce,” she said.
Starting at a young age, she feels, will reap many benefits for them in the long run.
“It may not all stick and it may not make the most sense right now, but at least it gets them thinking of those basic skills and building on for the future,” she said. “I think introducing it now is a great idea — it’s getting them prepared for when they do get out into real life, and it’s work-readiness skills.”
Litwinski said the program’s content directly corresponds with students’ intellectual levels and abilities, and is supported by examples of early entrepreneurship such as babysitting and lawn mowing.
Through such endeavours, young workers are faced with the choice of either spending or saving their money earned, and Litwinski wants students to understand the nature of making such decisions, and the implications that may result from them.
“It’s about getting those ideas instilled in them now if they do make a bit of money,” she said, adding the program also benefits students in many other ways. “It’s a good supplement to their math courses, and in high school, it’s a good supplement to their career and life management courses.”