Geoff Leask, chief executive at Young Enterprise Scotland, explains why his organisation is at the heart of 2018’s Year of Young People.
Scotland's “themed years” have always captured the imagination, from the Year of Natural Scotland through to the Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology and the Year of Food & Drink. This year’s theme strikes a slightly different chord though.
That’s because 2018 has been declared by the Scottish Government and its partners as the “Year of Young People”.
Based around six key themes, activities taking place over the course of the year will focus on culture, education, enterprise and regeneration, equality and discrimination, health and wellbeing, and participation.
Geoff Leask, chief executive at Young Enterprise Scotland (YES), is busy making sure that his organisation will support the enterprise and regeneration theme. YES is best known for its company programme – which gives secondary school pupils the chance to run their own businesses – but it also offers a range of opportunities spanning from primary school, through secondary school and on to college and university, taking in prisons, residential and secure units, and community groups along the way.
“At the very heart of our work during the Year of Young People will be our Festival of Youth Enterprise,” explains Leask. “That will take place at Hampden Park in Glasgow on 5 and 6 June and will be the culmination of our company programme, including the final judging and presentation of our annual awards.
“The Year of Young People is a great opportunity to celebrate achievements from throughout Scotland. Our Festival of Youth Enterprise is one of the flagship events for the Year of Young People and this year we’ll be holding a Forth Valley fringe event at Codebase in Stirling on 13 March and a Tayside fringe event at Dundee & Angus College on 27 March.”
Leask adds: “Learning about enterprise is one of the key entitlements for pupils under the ‘I Can’ statements drawn-up by Developing the Young Workforce, from primary school children believing they can succeed in any area of work through to secondary school students evaluating the risks associated with developing their own business ideas. But it’s not just about entitlement.
“Taking part in YES activities helps young people to develop the core skills like problem solving and working together in teams that employers are looking for. Throughout their lives, young people will retrain again and again to learn new technical skills, but those core skills will sustain them across so many jobs.
“YES is also a great enabler because it’s not only the academically-gifted pupils who do well on our programmes. Young people who have struggled academically grow in confidence when they take part and learn new skills.”
His comments are borne out by the evaluation of the company programme. Its 2017 impact report found that participants’ employability competencies progressed in core skills such as communication, problem solving and teamwork, as well as in areas like aspirations, confidence and self-esteem.
Speakers at this year’s event – which is sponsored by partners including QTS, Royal Bank of Scotland and the Scottish Government and for which BQ Scotland is the media partner – include Black Circles founder Mike Welch, women’s empowerment champion Sylvia Douglas, Facebook advertising consultant Gavin Bell and social entrepreneur David Duke.
Find out more about the Festival of Youth Enterprise at www.yes.org.uk/events.php