FUNDING BOOST FOR YOUNG ENTERPRISE PROGRAMME
programme which has already allowed thousands of high school pupils in
the Highlands and Islands to gain valuable business experience is set to
be expanded through a substantial funding boost from Highlands and
Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) is a national initiative which helps pupils to establish and run their own short-term business ventures. Until now the project has had one director for the HIE area, this presence is now to be doubled allowing more schools and pupils to benefit. Both posts will be based within the Local Enterprise Company network, although their specific locations have yet to be decided.
HIE's support for the YES programme will amount to £145,000 (pounds) over the next two years. At the moment 31 schools have been involved in the programme, covering some 420 pupils - who are called 'achievers'. This will now increase over the next two years to 45 schools and 560 'achievers'. The range of businesses established by Highlands and Islands achievers in the past range from hand-crafted cards sold in Orkney to lobster-creel mending in Western Isles and yoga stools manufactured in Fortrose from sustainable wood. The young entrepreneurs get involved in every aspect of business operation, from 'market research' in deciding what to produce, through to manufacturing, packaging, distribution and financial management. Each business project is also entered into a regional, and then national competition where Highlands and Islands youngsters have been well-placed in the past.
This year, the overall runner-up and third prize company winners were from Western Isles and Orkney. The YES programme is highly-regarded by both the schools and the business community. It complements the school curriculum and allows the 'achievers' themselves to make better informed career choices. It is also moving with the times and introducing a new 'e-commerce' module - giving the latest 'achievers' a grasp of the implications of trading in an online environment - which future employers could find very useful. Lynn Hendry, chief executive of YES said: "The employment of an extra director for the Highlands and Islands is a huge step forward and we welcome this increased support from HIE. The geography of the area means it has been impossible for one director to reach and support many of the schools in the area. A second member of staff will allow us to roll out this initiative to more schools and pupils. The benefits of the experience the 'achievers' gain is well-recognised with the voluntary examination delivered for us by Strathclyde University Graduate Business School demonstrating that achievers possess a broader understanding of business principles and an entrepreneurial attitude towards business as a direct result of the programme."
HIE chief executive Sandy Cumming said: "It is worth repeating at every opportunity that the future prosperity of the Highlands and Islands depends upon its young people and their business and professional acumen. The YES programme has an established track record in developing these skills amongst the young 'achievers' and we are delighted to be increasing our support. "It is also worth noting that the project dovetails very neatly with the Scottish Executive's new emphasis on skills development, in particular skills which will help the Highlands and Islands, and Scotland as a whole, maintain its competitive edge." Jack Findlay, The Highland Council's head of school development, said: "We are delighted with the announcement of extra resources to extend Young Enterprise activities. It provides our students with a real taste of the business world and can motivate young people to become the entrepreneurs of the future - a significant contribution to the health of our economy."