Case Studies

Unlocking Young Ambition student placement programme seeks to inspire the next generation of potential entrepreneurs

Can Do Collective speak with Geoff Leask, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Scotland to find out more about why the collective impact was so important for the success of The Unlocking Young Ambition student placement programme.

The Unlocking Young Ambition student placement programme seeks to inspire the next generation of potential entrepreneurs and provide inclusive work experience opportunities. It facilitated 40 work placements for students aged 16-30 from a diverse range of backgrounds, enabling them to spend valuable time inside inspirational organisations.


The collaboration began in May 2019, as there was a recognition that students studying in colleges and other further education facilities, don’t always get the same attention when it comes to entrepreneurial activities. Geoff Leask, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Scotland comments,

“We know from experience of working in colleges through our Bridge 2 Business programme that there is a huge amount of talent in there and often these students don’t have the wherewithal to be able to tap into all of the opportunities available to them so we have worked to create a means to overcome this.

Through discussion with Scottish Enterprise, we developed an opportunity for the companies supported as part of our Unlocking Young Ambition programme to create real-life entrepreneurial experiences within those companies, for the benefit of the students. These placements are designed to connect the young company with talented individuals across Scotland who might bring a fresh spin or thought train to the business,”

concluded Geoff.

Funded and delivered by Scottish Enterprise and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the programme was launched and highlighted to colleges across the country and in the first year, they received 90 applications from students across the further education network. Final candidates were then shortlisted through a series of interviews that took place at Scottish Enterprise in Glasgow and from there, the programme placed 40 young people within organisations.

Unlocking Young Ambition ambassador companies, hosting students included Pillow, Talking Medicines, MyWay Digital Health, ARX Maritime, The Start-Up Drinks Lab (Drinkly) and Phox Water. All travel expenses were covered for each of the students participating in the programme.


Research is currently underway to determine the exact outcome of the 40 placements that were secured, however, the recent global pandemic has made outcomes a lot harder to measure. It is hoped that some of these placements will have resulted in ongoing relationships and future job opportunities.

Examples of successful placements included:

  • Students Jai Dara Latto and Shauny Bishop of Edinburgh & Fife College applied for Unlocking Young Ambition to gain knowledge and experience of working in a start-up to help their personal development. They carried out market research amongst Drinkly’s customer base to help inform future marketing and operational decisions.
  • Edinburgh College students Liam Inglis, Fabio Scaglione and Alexander Hunter secured a placement with ARX MARITIME learning about sales techniques and proactively looking at lead generation to help put those techniques into practice. Fabio Scaglione, who was a student on the Unlocking Young Ambition programme comments, “It’s really interesting to see how you translate your idea into a company, and then how you run a business and make money out of it.”
  • Tyler Shankland, Stephanie Governo and Gemma Kerr, students of Ayrshire College spent two days working with the ambassador, Pillow. The students researched and analysed social media trends before presenting their findings to the team. Tyler Shankland comments, “It’s been fantastic to get real hands-on experience of working in a real entrepreneurial business like Pillow. Scott took the time to find out what we were interested in doing and has tailored our experience accordingly.”

Lisa Wardlaw, Senior Programme Executive, Bridge 2 Business Programme comments,

“The collaboration is an amazing example of how some of Scotland’s top entrepreneurs and their businesses have shown support to Further Education students across Scotland. They have used their strengths to create a genuine impact for the students we work with, through the Bridge 2 Business programme at Young Enterprise Scotland.”

The wider mission for The Unlocking Young Ambition student placement programme is to change the mindsets of young people in Scotland and open their eyes to opportunities that may otherwise never have crossed their radars.

Entrepreneurial companies are often not the obvious career choices for young people looking to secure their first job opportunity so not only does this programme expand the horizons of those applying, but it also opens up a pool of talent to these startups. Not least, the programme also allows The Unlocking Young Ambition ambassadors to give something back by allowing these young people to come and experience their enterprises, following all of the support they themselves received as part of the wider programme.

To find out more about the project visit

About Young Enterprise

​Young Enterprise Scotland has been inspiring & equipping young people to learn, develop and reach their full potential through enterprise since 1992. Every year supporting around 16,000 young people, from all backgrounds, to develop business knowledge, entrepreneurial skills & ultimately become more employable. They aim to:

  • Enhance entrepreneurial attitudes of young people in Scotland;
  • Improve the enterprise skills of young people in Scotland;
  • Strengthen the work readiness of Scotland’s young people.

Their dedicated team are supported by over 500 volunteers from the Scottish business community to help realise their vision for Scotland to be a place where all young people have the opportunity to experience a rewarding future in work/life – no matter where they start their journey. They believe passionately in ‘Enterprise for All’ and deliver a wide range of programmes to ensure our work can reach ALL young people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.