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Don’t just give them a job, give them a career

Media Release

Don’t just give them a job, give them a career for life

Helping our young jobseekers is not about guaranteeing them one job for life, but providing them with the skills to seize new opportunities, both in employment and self-employment.

That’s according to a specialist in enterprise education Gordon McVie, of Scotland, who is speaking at this week’s Regional Development Conference in Rotorua. He was last year appointed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to head up the Scottish arm of a UK campaign to promote youth enterprise.

Gordon McVie says regions wanting to reverse the youth exodus to the cities need to help young people develop new opportunities in their own community. One of the most common reasons young people leave their home town is to find a job, so they need to see there is support in their own community for new ideas and business initiatives.

“In the past five to 10 years we’ve seen a significant attitude shift in the 16-24 year old age bracket. This age group no longer expects to have security of employment – but security of employability is achievable for people who have positive can-do attitudes and are prepared to go for it.

“Enterprise education in Scotland is targeting everyone from children in their first year of primary school through to those already in business. We’re saying entrepreneurship is for everyone whether you work for yourself or work for a company in the public or private sector. It is about greater entrepreneurial dynamism and creativity across the board.”

Enterprise education is also about changing entrenched attitudes. Young people have had the doctrine of working for someone else ingrained into them for years – Gordon McVie wants them to think about entrepreneurial employment options.

“We’re not saying you go straight into self-employment. You may go to university, graduate, get a job with a big multi-national – and then at 28 you may find your company downsizes as is happening now with many industries following the events of September 11.

“Redundancy could push you into turning an idea you’ve had in your head into action – but we’re trying to encourage people to identify and anticipate so they can develop ideas and initiatives before they’re pushed.”

One of the objectives of the National Enterprise campaign is to attract more business support for youth enterprise activities and Gordon McVie has found a huge resource in the many people in business who want to give something back.

“The importance of a mentor or an informal network of support to a young business cannot be overstated. Research in North America shows the ability of small or new businesses to survive crises in the first three years directly related to the strengths of their support networks. And if they survive the first three years, then the chances are they will survive beyond that.”

Similar support networks are developing with enterprise education. “I’ve been over to New Zealand working with the Enterprise New Zealand Trust, the main body for enterprise education in your schools. Just recently they were in Scotland teaching our primary teachers one of your enterprise programmes. We’re part of this global enterprise network where we share ideas and experiences for our mutual benefit.”


28 November 2001

Media Release from Gordon McVie, Keynote speaker at the Regional Development Conference

Disaster fallout can lead to positive economic change

Disasters can act as a catalyst for accelerated economic change, according to an international specialist in regional development.

Scottish Enterprise education manager Gordon McVie is speaking at this week’s Regional Development Conference in Rotorua, promoted and organised by the Ministry of Economic Development. Scottish Enterprise specialises in educating communities about enterprise opportunities and Gordon McVie was last year appointed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to lead the Scottish arm of a UK campaign to promote youth enterprise.

Gordon McVie cited his own experiences in Scotland when foot and mouth hit this year. It had a huge economic impact but in that case a sound recovery plan helped to turn that impact around.

He noted that the impact of a foot and mouth outbreak in New Zealand, which derives most of its income from agricultural exports, would be catastrophic. It was important to maintain New Zealand’s high levels of vigilance against the disease.

“The disease had a devastating impact on Dumfries and Galloway, a Scottish region with a local economy heavily reliant on agriculture. The economic impact was compounded by the region’s reliance on livestock-related business – 23 percent of the region’s GDP compared to 3 percent for the rest of Scotland.

“For this region, as it would be for New Zealand, foot and mouth was an absolute economic disaster. In our case, with the right support in place, we have been able to provide opportunities. We’ve got a recovery plan in place to put the economy of this area back on track in the shortest possible timeframe. Disaster is becoming a basis for achieving accelerated economic change.”

“There’s no getting away from the fact that foot and mouth is a disaster that has to be avoided. But what this epidemic showed us is that when disaster does strike, you have t o have in place a sound economic recovery plan.”

Gordon McVie has also found that high quality advice, information and support can also pay far greater dividends than compensation payouts. “In this case the only people getting compensation are the farmers – you don’t compensate the people further down the supply chain whose businesses are also going down the tubes.

“We’ve gone in and worked with these businesses to help them diversify and seek new opportunities. If you were a haulage contractor who only transported sheep, then you’ve got a structural weakness in your business because post-foot and mouth we’re no longer moving sheep. You need to look for new avenues of business.

“Foot and mouth is a disaster but it has also led to significant creativity. It doesn’t have to be a blight on our economic lives for ever.”


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