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Ed Miliband urges schools and business: “back Young Enterprise”

"What the example of Young Enterprise shows is that young people can be really really inspired by enterprise" - Ed_Miliband

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Ed Miliband (centre) chats to Company Programme students at Ridgewood Comprehensive, Doncaster, as he lends his support to the charity.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has issued a heartfelt call for schools and business around Britain to throw their weight behind Young Enterprise in a drive to end the scourge of 1 million youth jobless.

On a visit  to meet students at Ridgewood Comprehensive School in Doncaster, Yorkshire, he said: “I think enterprise education is really important in providing young people with the skills they need.

“But the problem is that youth unemployment remains stubbornly high – it’s still over 950,000 young people. That’s 950,000 young people who could be contributing to the future of our country and aren’t because they’re not in work, and we’ve got to change that. So I think Young Enterprise is a great example to many schools and many businesses.”

Mr Miliband indicated that he agreed with the charity’s view that formal academic qualificatiions were vital – but not enough to ensure young people are work-ready with the aptitudes and

“softer” employability skills employers are looking for. He said: “It is about getting the training and qualifications young people get in school or college right as well. That’s why Young Enterprise is important, why good vocational qualifications are important, as well as good academic qualifications.”

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Labour Leader Ed Miliband besieged by a host of radio reporters and writing press during his visit to Ridgewood Comprehensive in Doncaster where he launched the Company Programme.

He stressed that Young Enterprise was not just about training young people to set up firms – the skills it fostered unleash the potential of young people in many ways that can help ensure they are successful in life. “It’s not just about enterprise, it’s also about teamwork, ingenuity, putting your ideas into practice, so it’s a great project and I’m really pleased to support Young Enterprise,” he said.

The Labour leader added that it was vital that businesses themselves got more involved in delivering enterprise education: “One thing that’s really important and emphasised by Young Enterprise is getting businesses into schools, because sometimes businesses have trouble getting into schools, and I think businesses can really inspire young people. What the example of Young Enterprise shows is that young people can be really really inspired by enterprise, by the teamwork it involves, by the idea of coming up with your own  ideas, selling them to people.

Mr Miliband made his visit in order to launch Young Enterprise’s flagship Company Programme for the new academic year. It came as sign-ups for the programme in Yorkshire and Humber increased by 11 per cent in the year up to September 2012 as increasing numbers of UK schools and business leaders call on the charity to help young people develop business skills.

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Ed Miliband meets Young Enterprise team Ay Up Duck at Ridgewood Comprehensive, Doncaster. The Labour leader launched the Young Enterprise Company Programme. Ay Up describe themslves as ” business passionate about Yorkshire heritage. Yorkshire ‘ave it best.”

The Company Programme  enables 15-19 year olds to set up their own real business for a year with guidance from a local business mentor. Nationally, demand for the programme increased by 20 per cent, with more than 25,000 students joining last year’s programme and latest figures suggest that target will be beaten this year.

Chris Hoyle, Headteacher at Ridgewood Comprehensive said: “As you can see from the reaction here and the quality of the interaction between the students and Ed Miliband, this is a real lift for them.

“In the same way that Young Enterprise gets them out there and gets them those skills, they are talking to potentially the next prime minister of the country. He’s listening to their questions, they’re responding to his answers. That takes government to a different level that you can’t do except by doing things like this, and I think you’ve seen the variety and range of topics raised, and the depth of the intelligence of questions, and the conversations. There is no substitute for that in raising the performance and expectations of the students.”

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Ed Miliband speaks at Ridgewood Comprehensive about the benefits of Young Enterprise and his hopes to harness enterprise education to bring down youth unemployment

“The students become much much more confident after taking part in Young Enterprise. And I mean that in all sorts of ways. Confidence in themselves in terms of personal skills, confidence in the way they approach their work. They’re now in the UCAS application framework.

“If you read the personal statements of the students who’ve been involved in Young Enterprise there is a maturity about them that is different to some of the others, because they’re getting used to saying ‘not only do I think this about myself, but also I’ve battle tested this out on the Young Enterprise scheme – I know I’m interested in this now, I’ve taken on the role of Managing Director, Marketing Director and the rest of it, and I know I can do it or not.’ So again it’s about raising the level of what they do next. They are better equipped, they’re more broadly equipped,  and they’re more confident in doing it.”

Mr Miliband’s visit was covered by a number of media outlets including the Yorkshire Post (click below to read it).

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