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Colleges Scotland Conference 2024 - Reflecting on The College Spark

By Tom Hall Senior Policy Officer  

Photo of Jamie GenevieveIn my role of Senior Policy Officer at Colleges Scotland I’ve been part of many discussions around the role of colleges in supporting local and regional economic growth across Scotland and in delivering against key economic requirements for the Scottish Government and Scottish economy and have seen numerous reports and strategies published around economic transformation and entrepreneurial campuses.

However, nurturing entrepreneurship has been less obvious within those discussions, so it was incredibly refreshing for this unique role to be highlighted as part of the Colleges Scotland Conference at City of Glasgow College last week.

Within our session on Entrepreneurship college sector delegates and our external partners and stakeholders firstly heard from college graduate Jamie Genevieve, founder of Vieve, who gave tremendous insight into what college meant to her and what it gave her in supporting her entrepreneurial journey, having studied Make-Up Artistry at West College Scotland.

Jamie spoke at length about how her college experience supported her to both understand the practicalities of being a make-up artist and applying these in a work-based environment, whilst providing her with the confidence and the knowledge to develop her contacts base and entrepreneurial mindset.

Her college experience provided her with a great sense of pride and in her view helped to create the conditions for her to develop her sense of entrepreneurship, and evolving to the point she launched her brand.

Photo of Jamie Genevieve, Ana Stewart, Susan Elston, Zara JanjuaAttendees also had the opportunity to hear from Ana Stewart at EOS Advisory, who also spoke of her own experiences of studying at art college and balancing this with experiential learning at work, whilst underling her view that colleges are a natural fit for developing and enabling highly employable, entrepreneurial and business centric individuals. Susan Elston, Chair of North East College, made some great contributions to the discussions including on the need for investment into colleges now and in the future.

So, what do we need to do to harness and nurture entrepreneurship and build on the college spark? The education system as a whole has to be doing more to exploit and embrace entrepreneurship, and the starting point for this should be increased investment in the college sector. If the college sector is fuel-injected to go even further in embracing entrepreneurship, the college spark will deliver a significant return on this investment and meet economic need.

As per the key messages from both Jamie, Ana, and Susan, colleges are perfectly primed to build on business relationships and connect those entrepreneurial students with the contacts and knowledge to develop their confidence and abilities to thrive.

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