The claim by leading Scottish businessman David Murray that schools are producing "too many lawyers and accountants" at the expense of entrepreneurs came under fire this week.
Mr Murray is one of 33 senior figures, mostly from industry, chosen by the Secretary of State to sit on the newly formed Scottish Business Forum. Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, launched the forum at a business breakfast in Edinburgh last week.
The forum is intended to improve communication between industrialists and Government, but it will also scrutinize the role of education.
Mr Brown announced that he was initiating a programme of visits to schools by entrepreneurs to enthuse the next generation of business leaders.
Mr Murray was reported afterwards as saying that "unless we get it right in schools I genuinely believe - with no disrespect to accountants and lawyers - that if we don't produce some entrepreneurs there will be nobody left to advise or add up the numbers for. What you need to do is to get an entrepreneurial spirit amongst the children."
But Brian Twiddle, director of the Centre for Enterprise Education at Jordanhill, retorted: "Mr Murray seems to imagine there is nothing happening. In fact there is a great deal happening. Young people can be very entrepreneurial when they are given the opportunity." He pointed out that Alan Sugar, founder of Amstrad and Tottenham Hotspur FC, was recently in Scotland to promote enterprise education.
Figures from the CEE show that in three quarters of Scottish primary and secondary schools at least one teacher has had training in enterprise education. Some 60 per cent of Scottish secondary schools are involved in running 300 enterprise companies with a throughput of 4500 young people a year, said to be the highest penetration in the world. Mr Twiddle has just returned from Finland and Sweden, and says: "They are in awe of what we are doing."
Other entrepreneurs who will visit schools are Sir Ian Wood, Brian Souter, Sir Tom Farmer, Gerard Eadie and Audrey Baxter.