Page last updated at 08:32 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 09:32 UK

Dragon Jones heads skills academy

TV 'Dragon' Peter Jones on his new project to encourage young entrepreneurs

Dragons' Den star Peter Jones is to head an academy to teach budding entrepreneurs the tricks of the trade.

The National Skills Academy for Enterprise will offer vocational courses for about 11,000 youngsters aged 16 to 19 in its first three years.

Jones, the self-made boss of Phones International Group, bid to run the academy in order to nurture youngsters.

It is one of four new skills academies due to be approved by ministers at a total cost of 30m.

The other academies will be themed around power, IT and social care.

The government funding is to be matched by employers who have bid to lead the academies.

Jones, a multi-millionaire who invests his own cash in projects presented to him by entrepreneurs on BBC Two's Dragon's Den, said: "This is Britain's first academy specialising in enterprise - specifically enterprise - which is fantastic.

'Unlocked talent'

"If our kids now can grow up and actually be totally educated about how - not just the economy operates - but actually how businesses function, all those people sitting at home worried about their money are going to be actually making much more educated guesses about what to do."

Mr Jones said the public-private partnership could "unlock the talent of Britain's young people and realise the potential of the UK to lead the world in entrepreneurship".

He said the National Academy for Enterprise would focus on equipping young people with enterprise and innovation skills, with the aim of giving them the necessary confidence to succeed in business.

Mr Jones founded a tennis academy at the age of 16. In 1998 he founded Phones International Group, a telecommunications firm that generates more than 200m in revenue.

Skills Secretary John Denham said: "Skills academies put employers in the driving seat to shape training for their industries, building the world-beating workforce that will improve productivity and competitiveness across the country."

There are currently 12 National Skills Academies, of which 10 are already running and two are in the planning stage.

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