Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logosColeg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logos

Learners flex their business skills with Big Ideas Wales

ILS students were inspired by a session with ceramic artist Liz Williams and a visit to M-SParc, with one learner ready to launch his own venture

Independent Living Skills students enjoyed a tour of M-SParc following an enterprise session with Big Ideas Wales Role Model Liz Williams.

Learners were inspired to think about starting their own businesses following the sessions, with at least one embarking on their own entrepreneurial adventure.

Liz visited Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor’s Dolgellau campus to speak to learners on the Skills for Work (Pathway 4-Supported Internship) Programme, which focuses on developing employability skills.

An experienced maker and artist, Liz said: “I had a great session with the students, discussing how simple ideas could lead to a source of income, or a business.

“I gave them an artistic exercise to try, using a piece of white card and a few strips of randomly painted paper, scissors and glue.

“A wonderful range of products resulted, all of which could be utilised as an artistic piece, or a design that could be reproduced on a greetings card, tote bag, framed print, and many other saleable items. It was a totally enjoyable session with enthusiastic and creative students.”

One of the learners, Molly, said: “Liz taught us how to start your own business doing art. She taught us about knowing what your art is worth, how to make art from what’s around you, how to come up with art ideas to sell, and knowing when something is working and when something is not.

“I like to draw digital art in my spare time, and having these experiences made me realise that I might want to start a business of my own in the future.”

Following Liz’s session, the students visited M-SParc in Gaerwen, where they had a tour of the science park, tried out virtual reality software, and created mugs to take home with them.

They also heard a presentation from Sion Owen of Business Wales about the support offered by the organisation - including mentorship, courses, and the Young Person’s Start-Up Grant of up to £2,000.

Alfie, one of the learners who attended the session, is now getting ready to launch his own enterprise selling custom-designed items such as mugs and dice.

Sion said: “Alfie is a creative entrepreneur focused on producing innovative mugs that feature pop culture icons, which become visible when heated. He is also enthusiastic about manufacturing custom 'Dungeons & Dragons' dice and decorative cases for them.

“With access to Big Ideas Wales' business expertise and M-SParc's equipment, Alfie is well-prepared to launch and promote his new venture. Business Wales is committed to supporting Alfie throughout his entrepreneurial journey by introducing new concepts, strategies and skills to the young entrepreneur.”

Hanna Pugh, Programme Leader for the Skills for work (Pathway 4-Supported Internship), said Liz’s session and the M-SParc visit were “both excellent experiences for the learners”.

Hanna added: “Liz shared how she comes up with new products and develops her business, how to set product prices, and the benefits of self-employment.

“This visit was a great opportunity for the learners to explore the business world and learn from an experienced individual.

“The students had a great time at M-SParc. They spent some time with a company that creates virtual reality and tried out some of their products, which they enjoyed.

“After that, they had the opportunity to use the mug heat press in the maker's space, which was a valuable experience for the students.”

The events were organised by Shoned Owen, Coleg Menai and Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor Enterprise Officer, in conjunction with Business Wales.

Shoned said: “It has been a delightful experience coordinating these sessions for Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and witnessing the transformation of enterprise ideas into tangible realities.

“As the primary enterprise organisers for the group, Karen Aerts and I liaise with Business Wales coordinators to tailor sessions according to the requirements.

“We also facilitate connections for students seeking additional support and guidance through various organisations such as The Prince’s Trust, M-SParc, Môn CF, Hwb Menter, Lafan, FSB, and others. For all enterprise-related inquiries, feel free to reach out to us directly or via CAMVA.”

Business Wales is a Welsh Government initiative that provides information, guidance and support for businesses. Among the support it offers is Big Ideas Wales, which helps people under 25 who are looking to start their own business.

  • Big Ideas Wales Role Models are business owners from across Wales who run workshops designed to give insight into entrepreneurship. Any tutors who would like to book a session with a Big Ideas Wales Role Model can contact enterprise officers Shoned Owen for Coleg Menai and Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, or for Coleg Llandrillo.