TALENTED students have been testing their business skills in a competition designed to hone entrepreneurial zeal and prepare them for the future.

Sixth formers at Barnard Castle School tackled a Dragons’ Den meets The Apprentice-style challenge with the help of leading experts from the industry.

The industry day saw a string of employability tasks aiming to prepare youngsters for a future shaped by the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ of new technology.

Seven teams of students, each with a private sector mentor, were challenged to produce a business and marketing campaign on a new ‘grab-and-go’ snack targeting petrol pump shops.

They used their skills to design apps, TV and radio adverts and other marketing material, complete with financial forecasts and costings, which they then presented to a panel of judges – Penny Petroleum boss Dave Penny and its development manager Vicky Hennessy and Charles Atha, the director of personal injury lawyers Atha and Co.

Barnard Castle School’s deputy head David Cresswell said: “The aim was for the students to appreciate that skills plus qualifications and work experience add up to employability.

“To spend a day with a business mentor and to receive expert feedback is a wonderful opportunity for them to consider where they are in that employability journey.”

Event coordinator Nick Connor said: “We are grateful to our mentors and judges for giving up their time."