Having long recognised that the traditional academic route to career success isn’t suitable for everyone, YE Scotland is now marking its 30th anniversary with a series of debates on the future of enterprise education.

THIRTY years have now passed since YE (Young Enterprise) Scotland was launched as an education charity – and there is little doubt the organisation has since become a key agent of change within the Scottish education system.

And with the ambition for Scotland to become an ‘enterprise nation’ being accelerated by The National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET), there is widespread acknowledgment across government departments that this can only be accomplished if enterprise education is embedded into the curriculum.

It’s clear action has to start now – and this is being aided by the inclusion of enterprise in the Scottish Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee scheme.

This aims to make enterprise a positive ambition for young people alongside training, volunteer work and employment – and consequently brings an obligation on education leaders to make enterprise learning available to everyone.

YE Scotland itself has grown steadily over the years to assist such ambitions, introducing a range of enterprise programmes for primary, secondary and tertiary students – with national recognition for its enterprise learning achievements.

Working alongside the Scottish Government, the organisation is now poised to expand into every school in Scotland. Fraser Morrison heads up YE Scotland’s company and team programmes, which have become two of the charity’s torch bearers, with alumni from Chris van der Kuyl of 4J Studios to Baylie Adeoti of Dechomai still extolling the benefits of the programme many years after leaving school.

These programmes challenge senior phase school students to set up and run their own businesses.

The students are required to manage the manufacture of products or set up a service, control costs and deliver a sales and marketing campaign, learning skills in communication, finance and problem solving. 

In 2019, the Company Programme was accredited by SCQF and given the status of a Level 6 qualification. And this year, more than 150 companies have been set up across Scottish schools with around 550 students working towards their qualification for entrepreneurship.

Fraser said: “There is no doubt that the pandemic brought enterprise skills to the fore, not only as a driver for economic recovery, but also as vital for young people’s personal development and ultimate contribution to that goal.

“Speak to young people and they very eloquently talk about needing skills in communication, resilience, creativity, finance and how these transferable skills can help them succeed in further education or in employment.

“These are the ‘recovery’ tools, and enterprise education is one way that they can get the practical learning that develops them.”

Enterprise education is already built into the curriculum for excellence for primary schools and for this cohort, up to and including lower secondary, YE Scotland runs its Circular Economy Challenge and ‘Fiver’ and ‘Tenner’ challenges. Recently, Crosshouse Primary in East Kilbride became the first school in Scotland to achieve ‘Centre of Excellence’ status in financial education supported by YE Scotland and YE Money.

These all form the lower rungs of YE Scotland’s ladder of enterprise, which rises through secondary and tertiary education, with finance skills programmes, the #femaleboss project and the social innovators challenge amongst those designed to engage young people through a ‘learning by doing’ approach.

Matters become particularly difficult, however, in upper secondary when schools traditionally move towards more academic studies to guide pupils through standard exams.

Fraser said: “That’s why the Level 6 qualification for the Company Programme and the Level 3 qualification for the Team Programme are so important. Gaining the SCQF accreditation allows teachers to build these programmes into the timetable. They, too, recognise the breadth and depth of enterprise learning in developing key skills.

“It is increasingly understood that the formal academic route does not suit everyone, and enterprise education allows many young people to achieve through a different style of learning.”

Working with teachers and education authorities remains a priority for YE Scotland and, as part of its 30th anniversary year, the organisation is hosting a series of debates about the future of enterprise education with the new ‘Regional Improvement Collaboratives’.

Taking place virtually from the beginning of May, the events offer a platform to discuss the current status of enterprise skills learning and how to move it forward to meet the Scottish Government’s ambitious NSET goals. “Teachers can now have the confidence that enterprise education is backed nationally; the next step for embedding enterprise education into school life has to be a collaborative effort,” says Fraser.

The events will involve local authority heads of education, teachers and local enterprise groups and they will present an opportunity to learn more about YE Scotland programmes and their impact on young people.

Discussion will focus on how the programmes can deliver results in schools, through both existing networks such as the Developing Young Workforce (DYW) co-ordinators, YE Scotland local area teams and business volunteers, as well as new innovative structures.

As a charity, YE Scotland relies heavily on volunteers and support from grant giving organisations, private sector firms and public bodies to develop and deliver its programmes. While celebrating its past success through a variety of events in its 30th anniversary year, YE Scotland looks forward and realising its mission of “enterprise for all” remains its priority.

To find out more, go online at www.yes.org.uk

 

ENTERPRISE IS THE VEHICLE OF CHANGE

THE Scottish Government recently expanded its Young Person’s Guarantee scheme by including enterprise as a ‘positive destination’ for young people leaving school.

This recognises not only the need to provide lessons on self-employment and running a business for ambitious young people, but also the necessity to nurture entrepreneurial skills in schools which are critical to making Scotland an ‘enterprise nation’.

HeraldScotland:

Sean McGrath is the CEO of Entrepreneurial Scotland and sits on the Economic Advisory Council which helped shape the government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation. Welcoming the inclusion of enterprise in the YPG, he said: “Enterprise is one of the foundation blocks for the success of the government’s economic strategy. Today young people can look forward to multiple different careers over their lifetime and so including an entrepreneurial one is not really that difficult to imagine.

“Modern employers now expect people to be able to bring a sense of entrepreneurialism to workplaces, so this is as much about Scotland keeping pace with a changing world as it is about opportunities for young people.”

Lynn Kelly, the partnerships manager at YE Scotland, is working two days a week with the Scottish Government team to translate aspiration and policy into practice.

She said: “Building awareness of the enterprise programmes available and collaboration are key. I will be leading a short-life working group to develop an action plan with the primary aim of making enterprise programmes easily accessible to the widest possible group of young people.

“I want to share the journeys of young people currently on an enterprise programme with all the key stakeholders, including teachers, the DYW coordinators in schools right through to youth employability services, and through that combined experience embed the right practices across the education and careers network.”

 

CASE STUDY: BAYILE ADEOTI

MY own entrepreneurial journey has been one of resolute determination.

After being told at an early age that an entrepreneurial woman from an ethnic minority background wouldn’t be welcomed, I nonetheless steadily uncovered layers of support and at 35 set up my own business.

HeraldScotland:

People look at me as a success story, but I wonder how much more I could have achieved if the path was made clearer to me when I was younger.

And how many others have been dissuaded from even giving enterprise a try?

My own entrepreneurial epiphany came while at secondary school. I was encouraged to take part in the YE Scotland Company Programme.

The company we set up sold scarves and candles (income whatever the weather!) and we won a commendation at the area finals.

It was an amazing experience, not just because I was running a bona fide business but also because I was part of an excellent team.

What followed was a variety of jobs, learning about business from the inside, alongside a few of my own side hustles until I was confident to strike out on my own completely.

But where I found encouragement, I hear stories that concern me.

A friend’s son set up a tuck shop at school because there was never enough time for everyone to buy snacks during break time.

He borrowed £5 from his mum and within a couple of weeks he had paid her back with interest.

Yet, when the teachers found out, they shut him down.

He was given no options, just simply told that running a business while at school was wrong.

We need to equip teachers better so that entrepreneurial skills are encouraged in the learning environment, and we need to start at primary school.

Not everyone will choose the adventure of setting up their own business, but equal opportunity means making this choice available to everyone and giving it parity with academic subjects.

Bayile Adeoti, founder, Dechomai