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Cambridge Business Online Centre wins award for innovation

Cambridge Business Online Centre has won a national award for innovation for a programme that reintegrates individuals disconnected from the formal education system.

Described as “an educational enterprise that has the strategic aim of delivering courses that will meet the skills of the modern world”, it comes less than a year after the business was set up in April 2023.

Rafmary Millan Reyes Baker from Cambridge Business Online Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell
Rafmary Millan Reyes Baker from Cambridge Business Online Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell

It is the brainchild of Rafmary Millan Reyes Baker, a development specialist who graduated with first-class honours in politics and international relations from Royal Holloway, University of London, and also holds a master’s degree in development studies from the University of Cambridge.

In September last year, she took part in a national competition sponsored by Innovate UK, part of the UK’s Department for Research and Innovation.

The award-winning project put forward by Cambridge Business Online Centre was titled ‘Mind the Skills Gap: Lead. Innovate. Excel’ and captured the attention of the judging panel “by focusing on young individuals who have disengaged from the formal education system, resulting in the development of an alternative programme aimed at actively reintegrating them into society”.

Through the initiative, participants will attend future skills bootcamps, lasting 10 weeks each, which are designed to enhance self-esteem and confidence, foster leadership and entrepreneurship, and provide training in emerging technologies through digital clinics.

The objective is to give young people aged 16-24 who are facing challenges with formal education or at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Employment, Education, or Training) the best possible chance of success. The pilot centre will be in Peterborough.

South Cambridgeshire-based Rafmary, who is originally from Venezuela, moving to the UK 10 years ago, said the thinking behind ‘Mind the Skills Gap: Lead. Innovate. Excel’ came from her wanting to “address the skills deficit in the UK, which is projected to cost the country £120billion by 2030”.

She says: “Given this problem with the skills shortages, my approach is to engage young people who have felt excluded from society by equipping them with the necessary combination of skills that will allow them to achieve financial independence and become successful. This is not only good for them but also good for our economy.”

Rafmary, an alumna of Girton College, said she is “incredibly grateful to Innovate UK for helping us make Mind the Skills Gap: Lead. Innovate. Excel a reality”.

“Their support will enable us to positively change the lives of people in Peterborough and in the Cambridgeshire region, and I feel that this will really help us towards a brighter and more skilled future for all.

“My ultimate passion is ensuring that no-one is left behind, so I’m very grateful to them for providing us with these much-needed resources, to be able to continue to make a positive impact in our region and beyond.

“Skills are the currency of the future and we want people to get them.”

Daniel Zeichner, the Labour MP for Cambridge, said: “I am pleased to support new educational initiatives that aim to benefit young individuals feeling unmotivated by traditional systems of learning.

“These initiatives, like those recognised by this important award, empower businesses pursuing a social cause by supporting young people and equipping them with vital skills needed for a changing world.

“This, in turn, strengthens the businesses’ purpose and goals, allowing them to make an even greater positive impact.”

The project begins in March 2024. Interested young people, particularly in Peterborough, can enrol at cambridgebusinessonline.com for free.

Cambridge Business Online Centre also offers a bachelor’s degree in business, English courses, business English courses, and English for certifications such as IELTS.

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