Investing in Lanarkshire’s young entrepreneurs

Pupils Claire Finnigan, Bethany Lloyd and Charlotte Millar, from Hamilton Grammar School with their products.
Pupils Claire Finnigan, Bethany Lloyd and Charlotte Millar, from Hamilton Grammar School with their products.

More than 180 young people from across Lanarkshire are gaining entrepreneurial experience thanks to funding from UK Steel Enterprise (UKSE).

Charitable organisation Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) equips young people with the skills needed to start their own business, secure employment or enter further education.

To help them achieve their mission in Lanarkshire, UKSE has granted the organisation £2,500 for its ‘Company Programme’ initiative.

Arranged in partnership with schools, the year-long initiative is designed for pupils aged 16 to 18, who are tasked with setting up and managing a business. This year alone, 13 schools throughout Lanarkshire will benefit from the programme, which sees budding entrepreneurs create a product or service, assign real-world roles, such as financial secretary and marketing manager, and develop business plans.

The students’ products, which have previously included jewellery, children’s books or clothing, are then sold through various channels, such as online platforms and at local trade fairs. Teams then decide how they most effectively use their profits. At the end of the course, teams attend a regional competition to showcase their successes in the hopes of being named ‘Company of the Year.’

After impressing judges with a collection of handmade goods, a group of pupils from Hamilton Grammar School were winners at this year’s regional ceremony. The company, which produced and sold, pens and custom tote bags, will now progress to the national competition where they will compete against schools from across Scotland. The programme gives participants practical experience in financial literacy, problem solving, presentation and communication skills, giving them a host of attributes intended to prepare them for later life.

Throughout the process, teams will receive support and guidance from a dedicated mentor; a volunteer from the local business community. The mentor’s primary role is to advise students, provide insight into company structures and encourage creativity and team work.

Anne Clyde, regional manager at UK Steel Enterprise, said: “It is crucial we invest in our young people, providing them with the skills needed to help them forge their own success. The Company Programme not only understands this need; it puts in place a practical system which helps pupils gain valuable experience not readily available in the classroom.”

Graeme Sives head teacher at Hamilton Grammar School said: “I would like to thank UK Steel Enterprise and Young Enterprise Scotland for giving the pupils the opportunity to take part in this programme. It was a fantastic experience, which has helped the pupils develop some valuable employability skills, including problem-solving, self-esteem and resilience.”

Geoff Leask, chief executive at Young Enterprise Scotland, said: “The Company Programme is based upon the belief that learning is best achieved through the act of doing. Pupils are not only faced with having to build something from scratch, they have to adapt to working in groups and deal with the same issues faced by any real, functioning business.

“I am hugely grateful to UKSE for its contribution, which will see us secure a strong presence in Ayrshire this year and ensure that local pupils receive the training and support needed to take part.”