Business chiefs lend weight to #163;1m training push

19th August 2011 at 01:00
Fund is aimed at encouraging entrepreneurial spirit in pupils

East Ayrshire Council is investing pound;1 million and enlisting some of Scotland's best-known business leaders in a hugely ambitious programme to prepare school leavers for the world of work.

The Business Enterprise Fund is for all nine secondary schools, while Sir Tom Hunter's foundation will provide a pound;5,000 prize to the pupil who comes up with the innovation most admired by their peers.

The fund is designed to encourage entrepreneurial qualities and get more leavers into work, training or employment.

The nine schools are each using their allocation working on a "business, enterprise and skills centre", focusing on skills gaps.

The centres - details of which were approved in principle by East Ayrshire councillors this week - will concentrate on growing Scottish industries such as tourism, food and drink, life sciences, finance, creative industries and renewables.

A total of 11 business leaders have agreed to help schools achieve their aims. They include: Norman Drummond, of Drummond International and Columba 1400; Peter Hughes, chief executive of Scottish Engineering, and Mark Strudwick, chief executive of the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust.

Sir Tom Hunter has also offered access to his company's expertise in e- commerce, to help online sales proposals at Kilmarnock, James Hamilton and Grange academies.

The pound;1 million funding from East Ayrshire Council is a one-off, with schools expected to devise programmes that they can keep going with their existing resources.

In a report to councillors, executive director of education and social services Graham Short stated that the fund was "specifically designed to make sure young people leaving school are `business-ready'".

ACTION TIME

- Doon Academy will open a shop in Dalmellington town centre and start an online business selling products manufactured in school.

- A school radio station will improve literacy at Kilmarnock Academy, while a school cafe will boost entrepreneurial and hospitality skills.

- Auchinleck and Cumnock academies will open a "pre-apprenticeship centre" at Hope Homes' Knockroon development, with 60 pupils gaining skills in construction, architecture and engineering.

- Up to 15 Stewarton Academy fourth-year leavers will be mentored by local businesses.

- The Co-operative Society will provide Loudoun Academy with expertise in marketing, retail and how to put together business models.

henry.hepburn@tes.co.uk.

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