‘Skills for the Future’ competition winners take on alcohol

JA Europe

The SoberDrive team

The United Kingdom group takes home the JA Europe Skills for the Future Award in Prague with ‘SoberDrive’


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SoberDrive, a United Kingdom group, won big at the JA Europe Skills for the Future competition in Prague on June 10 with an invention that would revolutionize drunk driving self-regulation. The student group of George Kershaw Houghton, Edward Kershaw Houghton, Callum Coles, Samuel Roberts and Lauren Palmer, were chosen for their concept of a socially responsible company and assisting in decreasing the number of drunk driving related incidents.

The invention, a smart key, incorporates an alcohol tester, which the driver has to pass in order to start the car. Taking this one step further, the team has connected the smart key to an application, which an administrator (a concerned parent or a fleet manager) can use to regulate how sensitive the alcohol testing should be, and the hours of the day when the system should be active. The students see unlimited possibilities and uses for their invention, even the possibility of government involvement, as well as cheaper insurance premiums for users.

Team member Callum Coles, shared his thoughts saying:

“The whole Skills for the Future process has been continuously progressive and has kept us challenged the whole time. The feedback from industry experts has been amazing and we can’t thank everyone enough! Hopefully, on the back of this you’ll see a bright future from SoberDrive.”

JA_Europe_Skills for the Future_DebatePanellists

The joint initiative between JA Europe and Hyundai is aimed at helping vocational students sharpen the skills required for success in today’s dynamic market. Students involved in the program follow the SFF program over the course of one school year during which they create and manage their own mini-enterprise. Focusing on automotive sector, the program highlights the technical and scientific skills needed for future success in this market with support given from various teachers and Hyundai volunteers, who bring their expertise and real-world experience to the classroom environment. Through managing their own enterprise, students are able to develop their own unique products related to the automotive industry and can experience the full life-cycle of a business.

Since the start of the program in 2012, more than 10,000 students have competed for this award after winning their own national competitions. JA Europe is the largest provider of entrepreneur education programs which has reached nearly 3.2 million students across 39 countries Europe and is recognized by the European Union as “Best Practice in Entrepreneurial Education,” while Hyundai is one of the largest producers of cars in the Czech Republic.

JA Europe CEO, Caroline Jenner spoke to the importance of the Skills for the Future competition, saying:

“Skills for the Future gives vocational students an important opportunity to cultivate crucial competences that they might not otherwise develop in their more technical education. By bringing entrepreneurship, STEM and the automotive industry together, we aim to grow a generation of specially qualified youth – ready for today’s fast-changing markets.”

This year, over 98 teams from 15 different countries came to compete and were supported and mentored by numerous teachers and Hyundai volunteers. The competition included a roundtable discussion on “Closing the skills gap: how to drive innovation and increase Europe’s competitiveness.” Speakers and judges included Petr Cernikovsky, David Martinez, Jiri Havlin, Ivan Hodac, and Alexandros Koronakis.

Ivan Hodac offered his own advice to students for helping Europe stay competitive saying, “Don’t be afraid of challenges and changes.”

The Chief Operating Officer for Hyundai Motor Europe also commented on the competition, congratulating winner SoberDrive. “Congratulations to SoberDrive for winning in a very tough competition, full of innovative ideas. Through our Skills for the Future programme, we are helping to tackle the skills gap in Europe’s job market, to improve the employability of students in the automotive industry and beyond. We’re proud to support so many talented students with mentoring and insights, to help their studies today and to help shape them into potential business leaders of tomorrow.”

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