Enterprise has been destroyed, says Minister

20th December 2002 at 00:00
Scotland has "destroyed" the entrepreneurial culture that 130 years ago made Glasgow the richest city in Britain, Nicol Stephen, the Deputy Education Minister, said in launching the enterprise education report at St Paul's High in Glasgow.

In the Scottish Socialist heartland of Tommy Sheridan in Pollok, the minister chose to elaborate on the desperate need to revive capitalist enterprise through schools to ensure Scotland once again became an economic world leader.

Only around 10 per cent of schools were involved in enterprise education but he believed all would be in future years.

Mr Stephen said: "I believe that this is probably the most important document I've ever been involved in developing in my time in the Scottish Parliament, and in my career as a politician."

He went on: "Teaching enterprise education in schools on its own is not enough to change the culture. But Scotland has destroyed the culture. It had the culture and squeezed it out, so we've got to reinvent that inspiring, entrepreneurial world-leading approach that we had."

Other countries displayed a greater willingness to take risks and feared failure less. Many successful entrepreneurs failed several times before making their millions.

Mr Stephen had been in business for seven years before becoming a politician and never failed. He accepted that the engine of a new capitalism can be kickstarted in schools and that the Scottish Executive had never been so open about it.

"The old mentality that government should provide jobs, ensure economic success and drive the growth and development of the nation is completely outdated. We need to radically change the culture in many of the communities in Scotland. Some parts of the country have good business start-up rates and others have the worst in Europe," the minister said.

Business leaders had a duty to get involved in schools and ensure young people had the role models they needed.

Rod O'Donnell, head of St Paul's, which has a close link with Scottish Power and Rolls Royce, described schools' previous efforts at enterprise education as tokenism. "It's moved on to a much more focused programme, with much more input from all sides of education, enterprise and business, with higher quality," he said.

Mr O'Donnell believed enterprise was about creativity, ideas and skills that might eventually lead young people to make money. "The old idea of running a stall where the children invest pound;10 and make pound;12 is old hat. There's much more creative thinking going on," the head said.

One initiative was a one-day workshop that involved small groups of pupils working with Rolls-Royce staff to produce a product at the end of the day.

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