A new partnership between Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) and business support specialists Elevator aims to inspire and assist entrepreneurial young Scots from primary school right through to college and beyond ...

TODAY marks the launch of a new alliance between enterprise education charity Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) and Elevator, Scotland’s leading private sector provider of business support, to create a pioneering “Ladder of Enterprise”.

The partnership between the two committed advocates of enterprise learning and skills means that there is now an uninterrupted pathway for entrepreneurial young people, stretching from primary school right through to college and when they first step out of the education system.

With unemployment among Scotland’s 16 to 24 year-olds reaching nearly 5% in January this year, the YES/Elevator collaboration represents a sustainable, rapid-recovery initiative that mitigates the impacts of the pandemic by expanding the options for young people as they enter working life.

Starting in Lanarkshire with the support of the University of the West of Scotland, South Lanarkshire College and New College Lanarkshire, the aim is to embed the Ladder of Enterprise model into all regions of Scotland, strengthening the Scottish economy through much increased entrepreneurial activity and more 
start-up businesses.

Professor Gary McEwan, CEO of Elevator, said “Elevator and YES have links going back over 15 years and we have worked together to deliver a number of programmes with a shared vision to encourage and support the entrepreneurial leaders of the future. 

“Collaborating now has never been more important: the economic damage caused by Covid-19 is eye-watering. Both our organisations operate nationally, we’re both driven by a commitment to the greater good, and together we can offer a continuous development path for all young entrepreneurs, as well as a collective voice to champion young people in enterprise.”

The Ladder of Enterprise begins with the variety of enterprise and financial education programmes that YES provides for school and college students. Primary school pupils can take part in the Fiver and Circular Economy Challenges.

These then lead into more immersive challenges in senior school, with the Tenner Challenge at S3 and S4 level and the opportunity to set up and run businesses through the Company Programme in S5 and S6.

To complement these, YES also runs the Team Programme aimed at those who are disengaged with school.

The YES journey concludes with Business 2 Business, a series of programmes, mentoring and small grant schemes for college students with business ideas. The alliance with Elevator now provides another rung to the ladder. Working directly with colleges, Elevator will support those college students who want to develop their business ideas further once they graduate.

Geoff Leask, CEO at YES, explains: “Young Enterprise Scotland has a strong pedigree for enterprise learning in schools and colleges. 
Our approach is ‘learning by doing’ and over a period approaching 30 years, the organisation has inspired and equipped hundreds of thousands of young people. 

“However, as young people leave education, we’ve not been able to know with confidence that those ready to take the next tentative and exciting steps into business will have the correct support structures for the next phase of their journey. That now changes with the alliance with Elevator.

“This new alliance will ensure that there is a ‘plug-in’ point for the students inspired by our enterprise programmes. By creating a ‘ladder of enterprise’, more young people will have the support to go on and start up their own businesses.”

Elevator works with entrepreneurs of all ages, offering support and business advice via the Business Gateway service. It operates at the heart of Scotland’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, running incubator and accelerator programmes, one-to-one support, and events to support those wanting to set up their own business. 

As part of the Ladder of Enterprise, it will now take its expertise into schools and colleges to support students who want to launch their own businesses.

Prof McEwan continues: “Young people create new jobs and shape local economies, and we must guide them every step of the way. I am confident that by creating a clear path through school, further education and into the world of work beyond, we can generate and sustain many more successful Scottish businesses.” 

Concluding, Mr Leask says: “Integrating enterprise into the culture and environment of learning is essential. 

“Some young people learn in a different way, they learn by doing and some have a different outlook for themselves choosing their own route forward rather than always following convention. Enterprise means more than just the ability to become an entrepreneur.

"It is that quality that gives an individual a positive outlook, an ability to see the glass as half-full rather than halfempty and is a valuable attribute for the whole of life.”


Students prepare to step up into the workplace

THE first Ladder of Enterprise is being introduced in Lanarkshire. In schools, Elevator will liaise with YES volunteer and local area chair, businessman Joe Docherty, who helps deliver the Company Programme. 

Within the further education sector, New College Lanarkshire, University of the West of Scotland and South Lanarkshire College are all on board. 


Each recognises the role it will play in preparing students for the world of work and welcomes the initiative to support new business start-ups from the college campus.  

At New College, Deputy Principal Ann Baxter explains: “Initiatives that facilitate students to create and operate live, small businesses on campus are integral to the learning environment we provide.  

“The students embrace these opportunities, and their enthusiasm is undeniable.”

This is echoed by Stella McManus, Depute Principal at South Lanarkshire, pictured below: “This collaboration supports the next generation of entrepreneurs in our region and is a welcome new initiative that ensures all of our students have the best possible opportunities to achieve their career ambitions.” 


Johnny Mone, head of business innovation at UWS, continues: “The Ladder of Enterprise can harness the thinking and authenticity of students of all ages in Lanarkshire. 

“I certainly believe that our students have the courage and innovative mindset to solve major challenges for the good of the economy and our communities.”

This article was brought to you in partnership with Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) as part of The Herald's Future of Education campaign