Thanks to a new initiative from Young Enterprise Scotland, business role models share their secrets of success with those interested in further education.
For most firms, it has been an extraordinarily difficult year. But if you think the new Covid 19 pandemic puts the dream of being entrepreneurs away from younger people, you’d be mistaken.
In Scotland, no less than 63 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds dream of starting their own company, driven by a desire to be their own boss, make money, be flexible and work from home, according to a recent survey by finance firm SME Loans.
Young Business Scotland, a registered charity dedicated to encouraging and empowering young people to learn and thrive, is promoting this trend. This provides assistance from grade school through to college and beyond.
The company has just relaunched its Bridge 2 Business system. The curriculum is now available at all Scottish higher education colleges and gives young people the chance to meet and be influenced by local business role models.
The program also helps them interact with Scottish start-up networks and provides grants to help them test their ideas for business.
Geoff Leask, chief executive of Young Business Scotland, says, “We’re all about creating a better future for young people,” “We encourage entrepreneurship, enterprise and learning by doing.”
Despite the harm Covid has done to companies and the economy, he is not surprised that self-employment aspirations remain high.
“There’s no ceiling to the ambition of young people,” he says. “They have ambitions for a very bright future. Those of us who are further along have a big responsibility to make sure we provide them with real support and opportunities.”
A key component of that, he says, is leveraging ties with those who have already taken practical measures on the road to business. “It’s about connecting students with real-life role models – local heroes – who aren’t too far along in their own journey,” he says.
“It doesn’t have to be someone who is a high-profile entrepreneur, but someone who is relevant to the young people themselves.”
Leask opposes the suggestion that students could benefit more from engaging with experienced entrepreneurs with years of experience and expertise.
“With our local heroes, the journey, with its ups and downs, is still fresh in their memories. It’s about recognizing that everyone makes a mistake somewhere along the way,” he emphasizes.
It comes down to how easily you can respond to the error, alter your behavior and change course. Many businesses were born in 2008 out of adversity, and creativity and innovation are born from adversity.
The goal of our work is to inspire, connect and help young people on their journey into business. And that’s when they come up with these role models.
A effective tool that encourages young people to concentrate on maximizing their potential outside of academia is the Bridge 2 Business program.
“It was launched in 2013 and based on a report conducted by students themselves for the Carnegie UK Trust,” Leask says.
“The key findings were that they wanted more contextualization of entrepreneurial activities within their continuing education learning, along with links to real-world role models.”
In places where there are few economic or vocational opportunities, the program works especially well.
“It’s in places like community campuses where we can really connect with young people,” he said.
In their path, they might be struggling to find the next step. The Bridge 2 Business program offers them the chance to concentrate outside of academia on improving their potential.
Right: A participant in the Bridges 2 Business program was popular video blogger Molly McFarlane.
It is also significant, Leask said, that Young Enterprise Scotland itself is an enterprise-supporting organization and is enthusiastic about providing the assistance it needs.
Our team is fond of walking the entrepreneurship path. “We originally worked with 10 colleges across Scotland, but we are now offering our support to everyone after the pandemic,” he says.
We now have an online offering and are able to introduce partners to the colleges they choose.