Premier’s ABN AMRO Business Studies, Economics Scholarship Entrepreneurial initiatives and enterprise programs in the United Kingdom Vivienne Szakacs Chatswood High School Sponsored by If a country wishes to be competitive on a global stage, its commerce needs enterprise, innovation, an abundance of entrepreneurs and the corresponding wealth creation. Through enterprise programs, young people are exposed to an awareness of entrepreneurship and its practical applications, and can eventually contribute to the prosperity of the nation. This has been recognised by governments around the world and they have encouraged the implementation of programs in differing ways and with varying measures of success. I have observed a selection of these programs in the United Kingdom and presented them in my research report. Many were run in schools, either as part of the curriculum or outside the curriculum. One was a university partnership initiative, and others were aimed at disadvantaged youth. I have endeavoured to extract success stories from these programs. I also had the opportunity to attend a course, Influencing Strategies and Skills, at Ashridge Management College in England. This institution is one of the highest ranking business schools in Europe. The course was invaluable to me as a teacher of entrepreneurship and as a researcher and presenter. The government of the United Kingdom is one of many that has recognised the benefits of entrepreneurial activity for the economy. Judging by findings of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2004, the initiatives that have been put in place in the educational and training sector of the United Kingdom have achieved a strengthening of cultural attitudes towards entrepreneurship in that country. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor involves over 120 scholars and researchers in a consortium producing an annual assessment of entrepreneurship activities in about 40 countries. It explores the role of entrepreneurship in economic growth and grades countries by the use of various indices. The report has implications for entrepreneurial programs at all levels in the educational sector and for government policy. In the following I have outlined some of the initiatives to encourage entrepreneurial activity from the United Kingdom. Scotland Young Enterprise Scotland Young Enterprise Scotland is an independent, not-for-profit-company, funded by corporate donations and through Charitable Trusts and Government. It has, since 1967, been one of the United Kingdom’s leading business enterprise and education-for-work providers in the 12 to 25 age group. One of their programs is the company program, in which young people learn about the world of business through establishing and running their own companies. They are guided by a volunteer from the local business community and a trained teacher. Stuart Miller, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Scotland, told me of many success stories of students. A disadvantaged school, Lourdes Secondary School, is developing an Internet radio station in their company program. They are most fortunate to have Lori Skilling, a sound engineer, to direct and guide them. Their computer skills have developed through learning the software needed to produce the music for the jingles for the various segments of the radio show. They have produced a CD and many of the students involved are looking forward to future careers in the music industry. The High School of Glasgow is a private, fee-paying A student at Lourdes composing music for a radio jingle. school. One group of students there were producing jewellery and deciding, with their business advisor, on packaging. He visits every two weeks to give them assistance. They were holding a business meeting, following an agenda and working together in a collaborative fashion to make decisions. They have signed up for the e-business program and will be building a website and trading online. This is an extension of the company program. They will develop a website and use web space from YES’s ISP where they can display their website in a shopping mall. This ISP generates order forms and then sends e-mails to the school for purchase orders. This way buyers do not deal directly with the students. This is done for safety and security reasons. Payment is made by cheques or money orders. In both schools I saw students who were excited, committed, enthusiastic and motivated giving up their own time to engage in these tasks, and teachers who were dedicated, friendly and inspiring. The company program involves the senior students and it seems that it is the more academically gifted that are drawn towards it. Through Young Enterprise Scotland, I was able to attend the Learning and Teaching Scotland Conference on Financial Education at Scottish Enterprise Buildings in Glasgow. Delegates came from all over the United Kingdom to hear the speakers and attend workshops on financial education in schools. Jim Lally of the Scottish Centre for Financial Education pointed out that there is one trillion pounds of personal debt in the United Kingdom. Taking into account the aforementioned statistics, an increase in unemployment would have disastrous effects on the economy. He said that the conference aimed to focus on good classroom practice, on the ways that industry and community organisations can support schools to provide effective financial education and on discussion of how developments in enterprise in education can assist in developing financial capabilities. I attended a conference workshop which described the integration of school and industry. This described the partnership between the Pollock Credit Union and St Paul’s High School in Glasgow. Aims of this partnership are to widen the pupils’ awareness of credit unions, introduce wise use of money to young people, give external credibility to the financial education given by the teachers, give external input, provide resources and give work experience opportunities to the students. Their Money Management programs are delivered by the credit union and supported by the teachers. Northern Ireland Because of the high number of government sector jobs, motivation to set up a business has not been high in Northern Ireland, and the government have been trying to change people’s, especially young people’s, perceptions. Invest Northern Ireland have been instrumental in providing funding for enterprise programs and Belfast won the title UK City of the Future in a competition run by FDI Magazine, part of the Financial Times Group. The panel of experts who judged the competition were impressed by the level of inward investment to the city. Young Enterprise Northern Ireland Young Enterprise Northern Ireland have had a long and successful tradition in providing business enterprise programs to schools. They run some of the same programs as Young Enterprise Scotland, such as the company program, and others that are different, such as the GLOBE program. In Belfast, I met with Derek Jones, coordinator for the GLOBE program. He explained that GLOBE was an acronym for Global Learning of the Business Enterprise. This course is designed to show how contemporary businesses operate in a global economy. It is designed as an add-on to the company program in which the students start up a business, produce their products and sell them. The GLOBE program works concurrently with this program and the students link with an overseas school and learn about exchange rates, wages, costs such as shipping costs and targeting an overseas market as they communicate with their overseas partners. They trade goods by bartering, avoiding a need for credit card or bank draft transactions. The local education board funds the teachers to go overseas to meet with their counterparts. One school running the GLOBE program was the Belfast Model School for Girls. It had a partnership with a school in Romania, a country where business enterprise is encouraged by the state and is a compulsory part of the curriculum. The girls had produced bags and were attempting to barter for the ponchos that the Romanian students had made. Unfortunately, the ponchos were much more expensive than expected, so the students were then considering selling the bags domestically. These financial decisions were an excellent learning exercise for them. They also had to consider finding ways to cut their production costs in order to make a profit on the sale of the bags. The girls felt that they had a far improved knowledge of international trade and awareness of a different culture through communicating with their partner students. Northern Ireland Centre for Entrepreneurship/University of Ulster I met with Pauric McGowan, the Director of Northern Ireland Centre for Entrepreneurship (NICENT) and with Sharon Hayes, the Learning Development Officer at the Jordanstown Campus of the University of Ulster. Sharon explained that NICENT is a partnership between the University of Ulster, Queens University, and Loughry/CAFRE and is committed to leading entrepreneurship in higher education. It was formed in 2000, and is sponsored by the Office of Science and Technology and Invest Northern Ireland. It is one of 13 science enterprise centres across the United Kingdom. NICENT at Ulster University extends its brief across all faculties through coordinators of academic enterprise. They each promote entrepreneurship in their own faculties. The two modules are offered to all courses so students are given the opportunity to complete them through an e-learning program unique to Ulster University. The online environment is WebCT, which is used to embed the learning outcomes of entrepreneurship into the curriculum. Shell-LiveWIRE, Belfast I met with Gerry Ford, CEO of Shell-LiveWIRE, in Belfast. He explained that Shell- LiveWIRE is a global youth enterprise organisation operating in almost 30 countries around the world. Shell is a global investor of this program, and in Northern Ireland Invest Northern Ireland is a main source of funding. Invest Northern Ireland and its partners in Youth Enterprise; Shell-LiveWIRE, Princes Trust and Enterprise Northern Ireland, have developed a strong youth strand. Shell LiveWIRE is an organisation that helps young people start in business. Currently their ‘Go For It’ CD-ROM containing the Start a Business Toolkit, LiveWIRE Direct supporting business information and research service contained in a content driven website, and the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards make up the portfolio of products they offer to clients. The Government markets these youth enterprise organisations through extensive television campaigns, thus absorbing much of the cost of advertising. Potential entrepreneurs contact a helpline and, if under the age of 30, are directed to Shell- LiveWIRE. They are then issued with a Start a Business Toolkit. They are then directed to an individual local enterprise agency which provides information on sales and marketing, financial management, business IT and legal issues. In some cases, resources such as office space and computers are provided in the centre. Plans are afoot by Shell- LiveWIRE to track clients through all the stages of the program to provide feedback and allow analysis of successes and failures. England The Princes Trust, London The Princes Trust assists unemployed young people aged between 18 and 30 years old to start a business. It operates across the UK and has a strong international presence. The Trust provides initial funding in the form of a grant and/or loan for young people to start-up a business. Potential recruits must formulate a business plan and present it to a selection panel. Post start-up support offers a personal business mentor for up to three years, 24-hour free legal helpline, designing of corporate stationery pack, IT advice and training as well as marketing support. I met with Patrick Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Princes Trust in London. He told me that the Princes Trust was going through a period of change. From a focus on unemployed graduates, it is now concentrating on the disadvantaged. This has brought with it a multitude of challenges, from convincing financiers to lend money to the applicants to briefing selection panels to change the set of competencies they use. New criteria have to be put in place for selection of recruits to the program. In some cases, this has resulted in replacing the existing selection panels with people from the community in which the business will be situated. One successful example of this is Street Cred, a micro-credit agency that provides low cost loans to women. The users decide who should get a loan. Patrick said that after three years, 45 per cent of the new start-ups were still trading. I asked about reasons for the failure of the others. He said that the London Business School had done a study on the music industry and found that the reasons for failure were the lack of adequate support networks, indicating a need for more business incubators. Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, London Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is an international non-profit organisation which has become one of the primary entrepreneurship education organisations in the United Kingdom. Steve Alcock at NFTE headquarters explained that NFTE targets many students of lower ability and teaches academic and life skills through an entrepreneurship curriculum. The program is supported by student and teacher materials and trains teachers with an initial two-day workshop on teaching entrepreneurship, strategies and resources and business plan presentations. NFTE has been incorporated into the National Curriculum at key stage 3 and 4 (years 10 and 11). NFTE students showcasing their fashion designs under their label MPower. Steve took me to a showcase of merchandise produced by pupils in a NFTE-run program for disaffected students from John Kelly Technololgy Girls’ and Boys’ Schools in London. These students, previously poor attendees, love coming to the program, and are usually there early every day. They had worked together for two months under the guidance of a teacher who had a background in fashion design, a photographer and a musician. The students had created their own company called Mpower and had put designs on t-shirts and other clothes. They had produced a cd, displayed their photographs and had a fashion parade. Wales CREDU CREDU is a multi-million pound project created by Canllaw Online and Fujitsu Services to provide a network of 82 digilabs to locations across Wales. It intends to make CREDU benefits available to all young people. I attended a meeting between Corinna Edwards of Shell LiveWIRE in Wales and Lynne Thomas of Canllaw. I was shown one of the digilabs, which consisted of workstations, including one enhanced for special needs, a video-editing workstation, PCs and laptops with wireless networking, digital cameras, colour and black and white printers, a scanner, whiteboard, projector and speakers, a video camera, broadband router and many other pieces of equipment. These labs are set up in any part of Wales where there is a need. One example might be for a community project in a deprived area where teenagers work with old people to develop gardens in derelict areas. The digilabs provide hands-on, enjoyable interaction with information technology and the users can improve their skills, create ideas for self employment and interact with support groups, their peers and the community. My study program Ashridge Management College As part of the scholarship, I was fortunate to be able to attend a five-day live-in course at Ashridge Management College in Hertfordshire, England. The course I attended was Influencing Strategies and Skills. Negotiation, persuasion and influence have been identified as key aspects of entrepreneurial behaviour in the ACRO model of the Youth Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Strategy for Wales—Young People 5–25, published by the Welsh Development Agency 2004. These are essential skills, whether for trying to get your proposals accepted, obtaining finance for a new business or enthusing your class about a new project. Participants came from countries around the world. Most had backgrounds in high-level management in companies such as Shell, Pepsi Cola and ABN AMRO (the sponsors of my scholarship). Some were entrepreneurs in their fields, and I was able to listen to their views. Some were dubious that ‘entrepreneurship’ as such could be taught. However, they all agreed that enterprise skills certainly could and that they were essential for budding entrepreneurs. After instruction in effective influencing skills, we were given a practical exercise in which we had to persuade other members of the board to adopt our proposals. This was videoed and our performances analysed. The next day’s program commenced with one-on-one coaching. I was able to obtain helpful advice on controlling my nerves during presentations. Learning breathing techniques and awareness of body language helped. The peer feedback session on the last day was the most worthwhile of the sessions. This was quite confronting, and powerful, but worth hearing. Seeing us as other people do is eye-opening, for it is not how we are, but how other people perceive us that determines their reaction to us. Conclusion My study tour allowed me to observe enterprise programs aimed at young people in different areas of the United Kingdom. It was obvious from these visits that ‘one size does not fit all’. The programs of the different organisations were tailored to meet their specific clientele. This meant that the bodies were not usually in competition with each other. The various organisations were also observed working together, with potential entrepreneurs being identified by one agency, routed to other appropriate agencies, such as the Prince’s Trust or ShellLiveWIRE and, when ready to set up their business, routed to a local enterprise agency. To increase entrepreneurial awareness it was seen that it is necessary to introduce enterprise programs into the school curriculum. Students need to be involved in actually setting up their own businesses, not just learning the theory. This will give them the belief that it is an achievable goal. Young Enterprise programs are currently being run outside the school curriculum in the United Kingdom, depending on teachers and students giving up their own time. It was gratifying to observe the successes of the enterprise organisations as described in my report. Implications can be made from the examples in this study for increasing entrepreneurial activity in New South Wales schools. I have endeavoured to include enough detail about the programs in my report to enable this to be done. I also am in possession of some of their resources. The course that I attended at Ashridge Management Centre put me in touch with some entrepreneurs with whom I was able to discuss the subject. The course itself was invaluable in improving my influencing skills. Five weeks only allowed me to skim the surface of these programs. An in-depth longitudinal study comparing areas where schools are successfully running the programs with similar areas which are not involved would be beneficial in terms of gauging changes in entrepreneurial activity in the community. These changes can be observed in the annual reports from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. References Business support for disadvantaged target groups—A transnational equal project report, European Enterprise Network, Edition Enterprise, Berlin, 2004. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, http://www.gemconsortium.org. Turner, D. Employability skills development in the United Kingdom, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Kensington Park, 2002. Smith, Adam, Inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations, in four volumes, Edinburgh, 1776. ‘Youth enterprise and entrepreneurship strategy for Wales—young people 5–25’, Welsh Development Agency, 2004.
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