Held at the William McIlvanney campus in Kilmarnock, Sir Tom was joined at the launch by entrepreneur and CEO of Founders4Schools Sherry Coutu, CBE.
Sir Tom spoke to the young people about entrepreneurship and business before showing an inspirational video made by the Hunter Foundation for Barack Obama’s visit to Scotland. The video ‘Aye We Can’ highlighted the inventions and scientific discoveries developed in Scotland, that have helped to create the modern world.
Sir Tom said: “When I visit America I meet young people who genuinely think that they are going to change the world; that they will be the disruptors who drive change and create a new way of working or even a whole new world. I don’t often meet young people in Scotland who think they will change the world. But why can’t they?
“Scotland created the modern world; why can’t that happen again? Why can’t our young people, rather than young people in China or the US, be the disruptors, the creators of change. Education has a role to play in changing this mind-set and helping our young people prepare for the modern world of work.
“I am delighted to be working with schools across Ayrshire again this year on the challenge. My team will be supporting teachers and young people, helping to develop essential skills that will be needed in the modern workplace. Our young people always impress me and I am sure this year will be no different.”
Sherry Coutu spoke to the young people about her journey from school to serial entrepreneur and angel investor. She provided a fascinating insight into her life and her drive to improve the world by solving everyday problems.
She also spoke about Founders4Schools, a charity working to inspire pupils by connecting them with local entrepreneurs. Sherry had found that bringing together business leaders and young people could have a profound effect, encouraging young people to find out about new employment opportunities and career paths.
The event finished with a question and answer session and the young people made the most of the opportunity, quizzing Sir Tom and Sherry about their businesses. It was a fascinating opportunity to learn from two great entrepreneurs.
Councillor Fiona Campbell, East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning said: “The launch of this year’s Sir Tom Hunter challenge was really inspirational for our young people.
“Since the challenge began in 2012, it has grown to become a key part of the Council’s sector leading business enterprise programme, designed to develop entrepreneurial skills and help make our young people ‘business ready’. Engagement with business is a key priority for our Council and, thanks in no small part to Sir Tom Hunter and Founders4Schools, is now securely embedded in the school curriculum.
“Our vision is to ensure that every pupil will develop the skills and abilities for a successful career.”
The young people will now be working towards the Sir Tom Hunter challenge and the all Ayrshire final will be held in June.