A ground-breaking course that aims to turn skills learnt on the streets into useful, profitable methods to excel in the boardroom has just welcomed its second batch of students.

Street 2 Boardroom teaches young Bristolians who have been involved with drugs and street crime to turn the abilities they’ve picked up mastering these illegal pursuits into legitimate methods to progress in the business world.

The experimental course was developed by social entrepreneur, Bristol-born Clayton Planter, and has received funding from Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner, and backing from The Prince’s Trust.

The free eight-week course encourages students to think about other ways that they can use their skills to progress in the industries that interest them. If music is their passion, Clayton might encourage a student to look at management and marketing as a way of getting a foothold in the industry.

Street skills

It’s all about legitimising activities that would otherwise be punishable by law. Drug dealing involves complicated logistics, a gang is essentially a work team, and word of mouth direct marketing.

‘Entrepreneur is just a fancy word for hustler,’ Clayton told the BBC. ‘I don’t care what colour you are, where you come from – it’s about diversity – if you really want to change your life. It’s not where you are from, it’s where you are going to that’s important.’

Clayton himself has a background in banking and local government, but he decided to start his own business when it became clear that progressing to a senior position was going to be impossible working in what he felt was a climate of institutional racism.

After a successful launch in May, the second group of students have just enrolled on to the course. It’s Clayton’s dream to eventually see the course become available nationally.