ENTREPRENEUR Will Ryles is hoping to throw jobless youngsters a lifeline by spearheading a new college.
The 24-year-old, from Dovcor, a bathroom suites specialist, is up against Jerri Murtagh, founder of Wearside-based Echo23 social media and PR consultancy, in the final of the Echo’s If We Can, You Can (IWCYC) entrepreneur challenge.
Now, through the Young Entrepreneurs’ Trust YET), which brings together successful and aspiring young business people, Will is supporting plans to open an apprentice training centre on Wearside.
Although the proposals are at an early stage, he is confident they will be a success.
“I wanted to make sure the generations behind me didn’t feel afraid of trying to start a business, so I started volunteering at local schools to teach enterprise,” he said.
“Along with the apprentices we have in the office, I noticed that a lot of kids don’t feel they have the confidence to make a decision or stand out from the crowd.
“Equally, I saw that for those that did stand out at 16, help often stops and there was pretty much no chance of a kid being able to pay for their own office, telephone, etc.
“For this reason, I decided to start the process of creating an apprentice college in Sunderland to help teach enterprise and guarantee 100 apprentices each year jobs, education and support as they started their own business.
“At a time when unemployment in under 25s is at a record high, university degree costs have gone through the roof and the Government is putting an increased emphasis on apprenticeships, this college seems a brilliant way to help support the young in Sunderland and help build its future.
“Until quite recently this was a dream, but now we have agreed on the premises in Sunderland and are working with architects to draw up the plans for the building conversion.
“Hopefully, within 12 months we will have the college open and investing in Sunderland’s future.”
If he wins the IWCYC challenge, Will said it would help boost his plans.
“I would like to win the challenge for two reasons,” he said. “Firstly, because of Dovcor, where we start with nothing, and create a product, utilising factories from around the world, import it, store it, set the prices, design the brochures for it and sell it all over the UK.
“It quite a large operation to get off the ground with a vast array of skill sets needed.
“But also, I would love to win the challenge to bring attention to the YET and its aims for not only Sunderland but as a beacon to the region and the country. “Sunderland has the opportunity to face the hard economic climate head on and stand up for our future generations.
“That has to be worth it.”
Will said he has been flooded with orders since he opened his company in Riverside Road, Sunderland, a year ago.
“We design everything in-house from scratch, picking the best factories in the world to make our products and distributing them nationwide to shops from our Sunderland base,” she said.
“We make products no-one in the world can make and it is our aim to become the most recognised bathroom brand in the UK, Europe and the world.
“The bathroom industry is full of old brands that lack competition and charge too much for decent quality products.
“As a brand, Dovcor aims to make the best products available to wider UK market and represent real value for money, giving customers a luxury bathroom, without the expensive price tag.”