'To Survive, We Need Captains of Industry Who Are Young'

The Evening Standard (London, England), November 15, 2004 | Go to article overview

'To Survive, We Need Captains of Industry Who Are Young'


Byline: KEVIN STEELE

With warnings of mass job losses to Asia, new industry is vital.

Kevin Steele, chief executive of Enterprise Insight, a Government-backed organisation representing all business, takes the hot seat ...

QToday is the start of Enterprise Week, devoted to getting young people to take risks. Why just young people?

need to start somewhere, and young people are at the age where they are considering their future careers and are influenced and inspired by new ideas.

QWe live in an increasingly restricted environment of diversity laws, health and safety regulations and flexible working rules.

Surely the most enterprising thing a young person could do is emigrate?

by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says Britain is the best place in the world to start a business in terms of the regulatory regime. In this country, it takes one bureaucratic procedure to set up a company whereas in Italy it takes 16.

Risk is beneficial and can enrich life. If someone tries something new as a young person and doesn't succeed, it's not a tragedy - it's something they can learn from. As a society we need to encourage more of that behaviour.

QYour campaign slogan is "Make Your Mark - Start Talking Ideas".

For success you have to act, not talk, don't you?

key message is that all enterprises started somewhere with a conversation in the pub or a scribble on the back of an envelope. What then follows is a lot of hard work - we are trying to encourage people to take that first step.

QSurely, entrepreneurs need experience and contacts, not just a good idea and youthful enthusiasm?

of course, you do need all kinds of ingredients to become a successful entrepreneur, but you're not going to get anywhere if you don't take that crucial first step - getting your ideas out of your head and on to the table.

QWho can become a young entrepreneur?

is at the heart of what it means to be human - so, in principle, anyone can aim to become an entrepreneur. The crucial thing is a can-do attitude.

QHow important is young enterprise to the British economy?

hundred people under 25 start a business every week in the UK. In the long term, the skills and qualities that we call enterprise - the capacity to spot opportunities, to assess risks, work in teams, implement ideas - are essential across all kinds of sectors.

We're facing increasing competition from China and India so those qualities will be vital.

QYou used to be a student activist railing against multinationals as head of the radical group People and Planet. What changed?

is a common agenda to both roles, which is about empowering young people and developing in them a belief in the power of ideas to shape their own lives and the lives of their communities. That's my own passion and it's driven my work in my current role and what I was doing previously.

QThe taxpayer helps fund Enterprise Insight. What do we get for our money?

are going to deliver a change of attitude among young people and those who influence them, such as teachers and employers. We are funded mainly by the Government, but have some charitable funding and also receive contributions from businesses.

QThe engine room of an enterprising society is clearly an education system that encourages young people to take risks.

So how have we become saddled with a narrow curriculum that stifles imagination? …

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