- Sir Brian Souter calls for new drive to create next generation of entrepreneurs
- Challenge to tackle employability and close skills gap as youth unemployment rises
- Stagecoach extends link with enterprise charity to help change perceptions of business
Britain’s schools need to do more to foster new ideas and encourage enterprise among young people to help drive economic growth, one of the country’s top businessmen said today (26 September 2011).
Sir Brian Souter, Chief Executive of transport giant Stagecoach Group, called for a new drive to create the next generation of entrepreneurs as latest figures show youth unemployment is on the increase.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics this month revealed that unemployment rose by 80,000 to reach 2.51million in the three months to July 2011. Some 77,000 of the newly unemployed were 18 to 24 year-olds – up 11% on the previous quarter - while the total number of youths out of work for two years or more increased by 12%.
Sir Brian called for urgent action to tackle employability and close the skills gap as Stagecoach announced a new three-year partnership with businessdynamics, part of the Enterprise Education Trust, to help change youngsters’ perception of business, and build their skills and confidence.
"Entrepreneurs are the engine room of the economy and crucial to a sustained recovery. Without question, we have people with potential in our own country, but I think more needs to be done at an earlier stage to nurture new business talent in the education system,” he said.
“Too much emphasis is placed on academic achievement and not enough on encouraging new ideas and enterprise. We need to change that. We need to help young people become more employable and develop the practical skills that can make a difference between a slide into benefit dependency and a ladder to economic opportunity.”
Sir Brian, who co-founded Stagecoach with his sister Ann Gloag in 1980 in the middle of a recession, added: “Part of the solution is encouraging young people to see starting out in business as an exciting, rewarding and positive choice. At a time when public sector employment is shrinking, creating private sector jobs is more important than ever.
“Stagecoach started in the middle of one of the worst recessions for a generation, with mass unemployment, a collapse in manufacturing and evidence of social unrest. But out of that difficult environment, we launched a new business that now employs nearly 35,000 people in the UK and North America. The challenge is to help people to see the current climate as an opportunity and not a barrier to business.”
Financial support from Stagecoach for businessdynamics will help fund practical business awareness courses for hundreds of young people as they prepare to enter the worlds of work and further education. The two-day interactive programmes give 16-19 year old students an understanding of business and its crucial role in the economy. Participating students gain a practical understanding of key areas such as sales and marketing, human resources, management and design, information technology and finance.
Almost 20,000 young Scots have taken part in the Stagecoach-funded programme since it began almost 20 years ago. Many of the students have been given a personal insight into business by Sir Brian at the programme workshops.
Last week, East Midlands Trains, one of Stagecoach Group’s rail businesses, named one of its trains ‘The Entrepreneur Express’ as part of its support for MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival, held in Sheffield.
David Millar, Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Education Trust, said: “Our research has found that generally as few as 34% of students in our target age range of 14-19 have a positive impression of business. However, after a businessdynamics programme this rises to 98%.
“In the past six years alone, our programmes have reached more than 300,000 students throughout the UK, who have the potential to be tomorrow’s business leaders, managers and entrepreneurs. Students taking part in these programmes often leave with both ideas for a business and a new attitude towards business, so we are delighted Stagecoach is supporting us for a further three years.”
In 2010, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) research consortium found 7.3% of working age adults in the UK expected to start a business within the next three years, compared with 10.4% in the United States and 8.5% across participating G7 countries. Scotland (4.2%) had a significantly lower level of early-stage entrepreneurial activity than England (6.7%). The rate for Wales was 5.8% and 6.4% for Northern Ireland.
Figures released by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in May 2011 show that there were an estimated 4.5 million private sector businesses in the UK at the start of 2010, an increase of 48,000 (1.1%) on the previous year. These businesses employed an estimated 22.5 million people, and had an estimated combined annual turnover of £3,200 billion.
A World Economic Forum (WEF) report on published in April 2011, based on an analysis of 380,000 companies, found that entrepreneurs were important drivers of economic and social progress, helping stimulate innovation, grow employment and improve productivity.
Notes to Editors
- Stagecoach Group is a leading international public transport group, with extensive operations in the UK, United States and Canada. The company employs around 35,000 people, and operates bus, coach, rail, and tram services.
- Stagecoach is one of UK’s biggest bus and coach operators. Around 2.5 million passengers travel on Stagecoach's 8,100 buses every day on a network stretching from south-west England to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The company's business includes major city bus operations in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Cambridge.
- Stagecoach is a major UK rail operator, running the South West Trains, Island Line and East Midlands Trains networks. It has a 49% shareholding in Virgin Rail Group, which operates the West Coast inter-city rail franchise. Stagecoach also operates the Supertram light rail network in Sheffield.
- businessdynamics is part of Enterprise Education Trust (EET), one of the UK's leading business and enterprise education charities (www.enterprise-education.org.uk). The Trust empowers young people to realise their potential through business and enterprise. It brings together businessdynamics, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), Blue Skies and Achievers International.
- The original trust was founded in 1977 and in the past six years alone more than 300,000 11 to 19-year-olds have benefited from its programmes. EET is supported by many of the top companies in Britain as well as trusts and foundations, as part of the drive to encourage young people to understand and get more involved in business.