Tuesday 19 June 2012

Young people are part of the solution

"Young people are part of the solution and not the problem - they are ESSENTIAL to growth of the economy and our nation" Angela Constance MSP at last week's Young Enterprise Scotland awards. 

I was there in my capacity as business adviser for a team of 17/18 year olds from Balwearie High School, Kirkcaldy who were there representing Fife having won the local finals. 15 other teams from across Scotland where there all hoping to win and move forward to represent Scotland in the UK Young Enterprise Finals.

Since August 2011 these teams had all set up a company and done what we all have to do - choose an MD and allocate other senior roles within the business, issue shares, think of a product or service, decide on a company name, develop branding & pricing, do some market research, undertake marketing, get their product into production, sell it and then provide customer service and handle complaints. In addition they also had to write a report and present in front of other YE teams.

Their learning journey covered many essential behaviours needed for business today:
  • Team development, building and working
  • Communication
  • Influencing
  • Conflict resolution - they certainly weren't slow to change or even sack the MD if things weren't progressing to plan
added to which functional skills for:
  • HR
  • Purchasing
  • Production
  • PR
  • Market Research
  • Marketing
  • Merchandising
  • Sales
  • Finance
I particularly loved the issues the eventual winners shared, and had to overcome, around purchasing the cup - dealing with overseas, minimum order sizes, quality control, change of branding to reduce number of colours used in order to reduce costs etc. 

Every young person there said they'd learnt much from the experience and many intend to set up their own companies once they leave university.

They and their link teachers can't do it alone - every school needs a business adviser. And that's where you come in - can you offer your support to your local school? You can provide as little or as much support as you are able. One year I was able to visit weekly - this year I only managed once or twice a month. What I do know is the support from business advisers, even if simply just believing in them, makes such a huge difference.

If you agree with Angela Constance that young people are part of the solution what are you doing to support them now so they make the decisions in the future that we can all be proud of?
I'm sure you all join me in wishing the Scottish winners Innovation (pictured above) with their measure up cup (ditto) all the very best for July and all the other finalists from across the UK who will be joining them.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Sowing the seeds to young people wanting a career in business and particularly Purchasing

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