Duncan Brodie, business editor
Friday, June 20, 2014
A report by former government minister Lord Young suggesting measures to foster an entrepreneurial spirit among young people has been welcomed by business leaders in East Anglia.
Lord Young’s study, Enterprise for All, proposes a range of initiatives covering age groups from primary school pupils to undergraduates.
He says that the end of the “job-for-life” culture means that young people are likely to have multiple careers during their working lives, with a greater probability of running a business of their own.
Under his recommendations, even the youngest school children would be taught about the role and importance of business and the need to make a profit. Other plans include allowing secondary school pupils to create their own start-up businesses and the creation of an enterprise society in every university.
Lord Young said: “The most employable skills of all are the three Rs but they, by themselves, may not be sufficient unless accompanied by an enterprising attitude.”
And he added: “Enterprise means far more than just the ability to become an entrepreneur. It is an attitude and set of skills that are vital in today’s growing global economy.”
The recommendations were backed by Kevin Horne, chief executive of regional enterprise agency NWES, which includes a charitable arm that works extensively with schools.
“This is not about turning out ‘little Alan Sugars’ but about getting people to think in an enterprising way and developing team skills and leadership skills,” he said.
“Hopefully, it will lead to some of them running their own business − there is nothing wrong with that − but the idea is to add to the curriculum and to provide social skills and employability skills.”
Mr Horne added: “The report says that education and business should not be two separate spheres. I believe that is correct, and that we should start at an early age.”
Lord Young’s report was also broadly welcomed by Suffolk entrepreneur Henry Catchpole, although he cautioned that it would be wrong to place excessive emphasis on profit.
Mr Catchpole, formerly head of pensions business Suffolk Life, which was sold to Legal & General in 2009, and now chief executive of management software company Inform Direct, said: “Lord Young may be slightly optimistic that teaching primary school children how to set up a business and make a profit will foster a new wave of entrepreneurs.
“However, that is not to say it should be shouted down. Indeed, ‘business’ could be a great topic for practicing the 3Rs, which after all are the fundamental skills that everyone needs whatever they subsequently turn their hand to.”
He added: “Where the idea is embraced it will be important that schools do not simply equate success with the amount of profit made. Any businessman will tell you that their greatest lessons have been learned from what didn’t work!”