Local government funded project, Developing the Young Workforce, has vowed to help small businesses get involved with schools and young people in Aberdeen city and shire after a new report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) was published.

The report declares that large businesses are almost twice as likely to engage with schools and young people than small businesses. Around 60% of small businesses in Scotland have not been involved with young people, compared to just 30% of large companies.

With mission to making sure secondary schools have a relationship with a business and plans to create an online presence in the coming months, DYW intends to answer the call to action made in the FSB report.

In response to the FSB data, DYW plans to tackle the problem by offering support to businesses as a single point of contact in youth engagement.

The report found that 35% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) said a school partnership is an option they haven’t even considered, and 24% say they would get involved if schools asked them.

Jo Golder, Project Manager at the North East Scotland branch of DYW, said: “Thanks to the research led by FSB, we can identify and remove the practical barriers such as uncertainty on how to get involved. It might be surprising that the number one obstacle cited by small businesses is not money or time constraints, but the fact that nobody has approached them about getting involved. Many small businesses clearly want to get involved, but they could use guidance in the process.”

“We are here to help. We want to simplify the process for all businesses and schools by acting as a single point of contact. Our number one priority is to find a level of involvement that is right and sustainable for the business and the school.”

“Youth inspiration activities can take on all shapes and sizes, and we see all as having value. Small businesses make a big impact on the local economy, and they are a huge untapped resource in real life application of learning for young people. It’s exciting that the main barriers of these businesses, such as a lack of contacts in schools or uncertainty on how to get started, can be easily removed through a collaborative approach. This is what we are here for. We want to help you make a difference and benefit your company and the future of the North East’s young people.”

Both DYW and FSB point to the fact that small businesses employ over one million people in Scotland as evidence of how valuable their engagement is in the community.

Andy Willox OBE, Chair of the South Aberdeenshire branch of FSB, said: “55% of private sector jobs in Scotland are sustained by SMEs, 27% of these are micro businesses, so there is a very good chance that today’s young people will make their future career in a small business.  As our report outlines, smaller firms already play a vital role in bridging the gap between business and education, with one in four offering help and opportunities to students at their local high schools.

“The news is also encouraging from those businesses with no existing relationship with a local school, with about a third of respondents saying that they simply hadn’t considered developing a partnership. But a direct approach would be enough to get them involved.”

“Schools need to open up and welcome local businesses’ input and these businesses need to get involved with education. If Scotland’s smaller businesses are going to get the skills they need and if the government is to hit its target on youth unemployment, then a larger number of smaller firms and their local schools need to make that connection.  But the Scottish Government, schools and other decision-makers need to make it easier for firms to give what they can, when they can.”

The FSB report and the formation of DYW is a response to the Scottish Government’s goal to lower youth unemployment by 40% by 2021.

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