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Schools 'must encourage enterprise'

A business leader has called on Britain's schools to do more to encourage enterprise among young people in a bid to drive economic growth.

Sir Brian Souter, chief executive of transport giant Stagecoach, said urgent action was needed to boost the employability of youngsters and improve their skills.

The firm, which operates bus and train services across the country, said creating private sector jobs was more important than ever at a time of shrinking public sector employment.

"Entrepreneurs are the engine room of the economy and crucial to a sustained recovery. Without question, we have people with potential in our own country, but I think more needs to be done at an earlier stage to nurture new business talent in the education system," said Sir Brian.

"Too much emphasis is placed on academic achievement and not enough on encouraging new ideas and enterprise. We need to change that.

"We need to help young people become more employable and develop the practical skills that can make a difference between a slide into benefit dependency and a ladder to economic opportunity."

Stagecoach announced a three-year partnership with the Enterprise Education Trust, which includes funding towards practical business awareness courses for hundreds of young people.

The two-day programmes give 16 to 19-year-old students an understanding of business and its role in the economy, offering a practical understanding of sales and marketing, human resources, management and design, information technology and finance.

David Millar, chief executive of the Enterprise Education Trust, said: "Our research has found that generally as few as 34% of students in our target age range of 14-19 have a positive impression of business," adding that this rises to 98% after people attend one of the trust's programmes.

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