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Titan business challenge prompts realistic decisionmaking

January 24, 2012

Last week, I wrote about the deficit in financial literacy in Canada and about Junior Achievement, a nonprofit organization with a mandate to change that deficit. Susan Egan is a teacher from Vernon Secondary, the 3rd place finisher in JA’s recently held Titan Business Challenge. Susan and her school have been involved with the Titan event for approximately 15 years. She says the face-to-face challenge is so much more intense than the internet competition and the students benefit from interacting with the other students and networking with members of the business community. A big plus is that they “come away very excited about a career in business”.

Sir Winston Churchill took the top prize of $100 but both it and the other teams gained much more from participating in the program and the competition.  The Sir Winston Churchill team can now participate in preliminary online global rounds, with the ultimate goal being the final round in Delaware, USA.

The Titan program, done in the classroom or potentially as an after-school club, consists of six hours of lessons and on-line game play under the guidance of one of the business volunteers. Students are CEOs of fictional companies and are in charge of all aspects of selling a fictional product, including decision-making regarding pricing, production, R&D, marketing, funding, competition and human resources. Just as in the real world, the game throws unexpected curveballs their way which require them to adjust their strategies as they play. The decisions they make determine their final outcome as their businesses either flourish or fail. If they decide they are ready for the Titan Business Challenge, then their skills are pitted against other high school teams. Good old competition, just like real life.

If you would like an idea of how the Titan game works, there is an early version of it on the JA website which you can try. There is also a JA “Snake” game – I tried level one of this and failed miserably but I plead lack of the technical skills that any five-year old would possess.

JA began in Massachusetts, USA in 1916 and opened its first branch in Canada in 1955, in Vancouver. It now operates under over 120 different charters in the world and, according to its website, is the world’s largest not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating young people about business. Its mandate is expressed in three phrases Work Readiness, Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy. JA works to inspire students to stay in school and to participate in an informed way in the global economy. Its programs, which are available to grade five and up classrooms throughout BC, use trained volunteers from the business community who educate and share their personal, practical experiences and knowledge with the students.

Next week: other financial literacy programs offered by JA BC.

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