What we learnt from the National Apprentice Challenge 2016

nac2016 team2

Learning to work as a team, keep calm and share the load

In March 2016, we, along with the Careers team, supported four students to represent Lancaster at the National Apprentice Challenge. The team, Dmitrii Ishutin, Anais, Adley Chan and Christopher Scanlon had already proved their aptitude for competitions after taking home third place during FLUX 2016 and we were more than happy to support them to take on another challenge together. Here’s their take on the experience.

On 12th-13th March 2016 Lancaster University students, supported by Careers and the Enterprise Team, and sponsored by Santander Universities, took part in the National Apprentice Challenge 2016 held in Birmingham at Aston University. This year, teams from more than 20 UK universities participated in the competition.

The challenge lasted for two days and consisted of two tasks that evaluated our different skills and competencies. On the first day we used special simulation software to run our own airline company. The conditions were as close to real life as possible, meaning that all business aspects should have been taken in mind – price strategy, marketing research, understanding of customer behaviour, R&D, HR and many others. The simulation was divided in 7 business cycles of 30 minutes each, so all the decisions we made were limited by this time constraint.

The second day of the challenge started with a new task – to propose an idea of a new social network and deliver a 3-minute pitch followed by 5-minute Q&A session to the panel of judges. We had only 4 hours to come up with an idea, to conduct research and to prepare our pitches. Our team focused on the idea of social network for Small- and Medium-size businesses (SMEs). As a team, we tried to answer such questions as why 9 out of 10 businesses or start-ups close down within 4 years, how can we tackle these issues and help them not only survive for a longer time but also be profitable and competitive. Eventually, we proposed to develop a platform where SMEs representatives could negotiate price, make bulk orders, establish partnership and solve issues with like-minded businesses around the globe.

Overall, NAC 2016 was an interesting experience, and thanks to LU Enterprise team and Careers, we were able to take 7th place out of 21. Although we did not win, we learned to work better in a team, to keep calm under pressure and effectively divide labour. It was a valuable experience definitely worth doing!

National Apprentice Challenge 2016

Back for 2016: National enterprise competition to win £1000, business mentoring and internships


Improve your employability skills, develop your entrepreneurial capabilities and represent Lancaster University with the National Apprentice Challenge.

This national competition, now in it’s fourth year, is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students from any discipline. You’ll need to be in a team of four and be available on the weekend of 12-13th March 2016 to attend the residential competition in Birmingham.

During the competition, you’ll undertake reality based tasks, practical challenges and test your creativity and entrepreneurial mind-sets.

Entries are open until Wednesday 2nd March.

If you have a team and would like to take part in the National Apprentice Challenge, get in touch with us at the Enterprise Centre and let us know.

National Apprentice Challenge 2015


The National Apprentice Challenge is an award-winning enterprise competition for ambitious students seeking a high profile challenge.


For two weeks, teams of four students will go through practical business tasks, develop their entrepreneurial mindset and improve their employability skills.

During the competition, students will focus on idea generation, business strategy, product
development, pitching, marketing and business planning. In order to offer them a reality-based experience, the students will design & promote a product to a real audience, pitch & receive feedback from real investors and apply their strategic thinking by running a virtual business.

Inspired by The Apprentice TV Show and Lord Young’s “Enterprise for All” Report, NAC aims to empower students to engage with entrepreneurship in a practical way and learn-by-doing.

To find out more please contact enterpriseteam@lancaster.ac.uk