PAISLEY HAS had more than its share of economic and social problems, but this week the Victorian grandeur of its town hall reverberated with the buzz of stocks being bought and sold as local pupils took part in a "Great Expectations" business game.
In a town where the Footsie index is normally taken to be St Mirren's goal difference and with not a pair of red braces in sight, 300 fifth and sixth-year pupils from 23 secondaries in Renfrewshire and Inverclyde battled to see which school could make the most from a Pounds 10,000 "development grant".
The young investors were presented with a range of business options, from playing the stock market to designing a computer game or even launching a company to recycle wellington boots. Forty local business people provided advice which may or may not have been profitable.
Messages of inspiration were delivered by Gio Benedetti of the eponymous pharmaceuticals and plastics company, and Andy Campbell, a former pupil of St Andrew's Academy, Saltcoats, whose Red Lemon computer company turns over Pounds 15 million.
Tony Cassidy, chief executive of Renfrewshire Enterprise, said the business game was a way of showing young people that it is the choices they make, their business plans and "a few leaps of faith" that dictate success. "We aim to plant the seeds of an entrepreneurial culture at an early age," Mr Cassidy said.
The winners from Barrhead High turned Pounds 10,000 into more than Pounds 5 million, which suggests they should be running Mr Benedetti's or Mr Campbell's company. The runners-up came from Renfrew High.