To ask the Scottish Executive what steps it is taking to increase the involvement of business people, both at a local and national level, in the development and delivery of enterprise education in schools in line with the determined to succeed strategy. (S2O-12218)
Since launching determined to succeed in March 2003, we have worked with Scotland's employers both locally and nationally. The outcome is that, according to local authorities, there are now at least 7,000 school-business
I thank the minister for his answer and welcome the progress that has been made on this important programme. However, as I am sure he is aware, local and national evaluations of the determined to succeed programme show that the direct involvement of business people in the design and delivery of schools-based programmes is patchy and that a lot more can and must be done in the area. In evidence to committees of the Parliament, business organisations have indicated that they are willing to support the greater involvement of business in the roll-out of the programme. What more can the minister do to increase that type of engagement? Does he agree that there is particular value in young people having direct meetings with entrepreneurs who have set up businesses? Will he take forward such an approach to ensure not only that we teach enterprise skills in schools but that we build a true enterprise culture in Scotland?
I agree with everything that Susan Deacon has said. A key decision that had to be made in the delivery of the original determined to succeed strategy was whether funding should go to education authorities or should be channelled through private sector organisations such as the Confederation of British Industry and the chambers of commerce. On balance, we decided—rightly, in my view—to fund local authorities. Since then, the scale of co-operation and involvement by local authorities and schools throughout Scotland has been considerable. I am not convinced that that would have been achieved if we had decided to channel funding through the chambers of commerce.
One really important point that Susan Deacon made well is that we must strike a balance between the role of teachers and schools, and the role of the private sector. I always want to encourage greater involvement by the private sector and business leaders; the 7,000 school-business partnerships to which I referred are really important to me. I thought that the initial target of 2,000 was ambitious, so to reach 7,000 is a fantastic achievement. Of course, not all the partnerships are of the high quality that we seek. That means that we must maintain and develop our close relationship with the chambers of commerce, the CBI and businesses to ensure that we get the sort of outcome that Susan Deacon and I wish to achieve.
What impact does the Executive expect determined to succeed to have on the business birth rate in Scotland? How will it measure the initiative's impact? What steps have been taken
As Jim Mather knows, we are giving specific support to young people who wish to start businesses. We also give strong support to the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust. Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise take the lead in the area, but I believe that the determined to succeed programme will cause more young people to take an interest in establishing businesses. Determined to succeed is not all about new business start-ups; it is about a change of attitude and spirit among young people in Scotland. That change in attitude will be very valuable to the Scottish economy, whatever job or career route young people take. I agree with Jim Mather that it is vital that we continue to lift our business birth rate in Scotland. We still face a significant challenge in that area.