Young Enterprise Scotland – celebrating 40 years of impact

When Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) started out 40 years ago, it had one programme – the Company Programme. Now the Scottish charity runs a whole breadth of training programmes and development opportunities for children and young people from the age of 5 to 30. I learnt a bit about some of these programmes and the impact they have had at the YES 40th birthday celebration in May.

Evelyn Wilkins, Web Content Editor, GTC Scotland

The impact of Young Enterprise Scotland goes beyond economics; it was obvious from alumni who spoke at the celebration that YES has an enormous personal impact on peoples’ lives. And from those running the programmes too there was clear emotion shown about what YES and the young people who have been involved with YES have achieved.

What is the Company Programme?

In the Company Programme a group of pupils aged 16–18 work with a teacher and a business volunteer to set up and run a real company for a year. The programme gives young people a practical, hands-on experience, to try and give them a true understanding of how a business works.

At the YES birthday celebration I saw an example of the sort of businesses pupils come up with when I met a group of students from Greenwood Academy in Ayrshire. Through the Company Programme they created an educational DVD package aimed at 4–7 year olds. The resource, called ‘Learning with Effie’, comprises six short educational films and accompanying songs and teaching material. A great example of the creativity and ability of young people to come up with fantastic products, I thought, and of their ability to follow business ideas successfully through to completion given the opportunity.

Find out more about Learning with Effie

You can also learn more about the Company Programme from a school’s perspective from Depute Head Teacher Louise McMahon, who talks about her experience as a Link Teacher for the Company Programme:

Read the case study

Young Enterprise Scotland alumni

A group of YES alumni talked at the birthday celebration about their experiences. Roisin Craig, a fairly recent addition to the YES alumni, was one of those on the panel. Roisin attended All Saints Secondary School in Glasgow where the YES Company Programme was timetabled into the core classes. Put immediately into the post of ‘Managing Director’, Roisin found herself in a position of responsibility that she had never experienced before.

Her class comprised 15 individuals who became ‘Limited Edition Designs’. The company produced a wide range of products including calendars, T-shirts, tutus, jewellery and bags, resulting in a turnover in excess of £2000 and second place in the YES national finals. For Roisin, the experience gave her the ‘ability to take ownership and lead, and to do the right thing’.

Read further case studies

Programmes for primary school children

YES’s first programme was run only in secondary schools, but the organisation now works in primary and secondary schools, colleges, prisons, residential and secure units, and community groups.

While the Company Programme remains one of the most popular learning experiences, YES recognises the importance of engaging young people over time from a young age. It offers a number of different programmes for children aged between 5 and 11, which are mapped to the Curriculum for Excellence.

Learn more about these programmes

Learning by doing

YES has what it calls, a ‘learn by doing’ attitude, aiming to make all of its courses interactive, practical, purposeful and enjoyable. An example of this ‘learning by doing’ approach is the YES Academy, officially opened in March of this year in East Renfrewshire.

Speaking at the birthday celebration, operation manager James Ward said that in its first six months over 500 children had benefited from the new centre. ‘Teachers like bringing kids to the Academy, as the kids are really enthused afterwards,’ said James. He talked about how the Academy is a place for children of all ages to grow and develop, with YES facilitating the kids as they lead the way.

As well as welcoming school pupils, the Academy offers a wide range of training to young people through vocational and modern apprenticeship programmes to help them into employment. And YES has big plans for expansion, aiming to open further Academies within other local authorities in Scotland.

Good luck to YES as it continues to grow and happy 40th birthday!

Find out more

You can find out more about Young Enterprise Scotland online at:

Video highlights of the Scottish finals for the Company Programme 2014 are also available to view on You Tube:

View the YES Awards 2014