Peter Vardy: Businesses must help inspire young people
EARLIER this summer, young people from across Scotland gathered in Glasgow for a prize-giving ceremony as part of the Scotland 2050 Competition – an initiative aimed at highlighting young people’s hopes and aspirations for the future.
This national competition, supported by Scottish Business in the Community, produced a range of innovative ideas, ranging from solar-powered vehicles to new ways of making consumer goods from renewable materials. This is all very inspiring and it is another great example of how young people engage positively when presented with an opportunity to do so.
The old cliché is true: young people are the future. However, are we doing enough within the business community to help them? The July statistics showed youth unemployment rates in Scotland stood at more than 20 per cent. Not including those who are in full-time education, there were around 70,000 unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds in the country.
While government has a role to play, the business community must take the lead in addressing the issue. Companies of all sizes need to play their part and offer more apprenticeship schemes that will inspire our youth and make them realise that they can follow a successful career path and make a valued contribution.
It is important to acknowledge the contributions made by entrepreneurs such as Jim McColl and firms including BT and Barrhead Travel, in offering modern apprenticeships. I’m also proud that through our business we have been able to offer technical apprenticeships and a “sales rookie” programme.
However, we need to build on this and get many more Scottish businesses engaged in helping young people. All businesses, from small and medium-sized enterprises to huge corporations have a social responsibility to our young people. We don’t owe them a living, but we certainly should be looking, where possible, to offer them an opportunity. At a time when our economy is struggling, we need to be bold and think long term to ensure the Scotland of 2050 is one we can all be proud of.
• Peter Vardy is the chief executive of Peter Vardy Group
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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