Ergo chief executive John Purdy is calling on the Department of Education to explore ways of making entrepreneurialism part of the school curriculum. The winner of the 2014 EY Industry Entrepreneur Of The Year – announced last Thursday – believes skills should be taught in classrooms that could have a significant impact on the future of the Irish economy.
Already involved in nurturing young entrepreneurs through the Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP), John Purdy said, “I have seen first-hand how bringing out the entrepreneurial skills of young people can ignite their imaginations. Not only would structured classes benefit individuals, they would cultivate a belief in Ireland that running your own business is an acceptable ambition that should be encouraged at every level.”
John Purdy is county sponsor for JEP in Meath. A not-for-profit initiative that brings real entrepreneurial learning into primary school classrooms, JEP has more than 160 participating schools with over 5,000 partaking pupils across 22 counties. Primarily aimed at 5th and 6th class students, it runs over a 10-12 week period and provides everything that is required to run the programme, including a step-by-step teacher’s guide.
At last week’s EY award ceremony, Purdy alluded to the kind of support that encouraged him to start Ergo. “When I told my mother I was setting up the business, I said ‘what if I fail?’ Her answer was: ‘just get up and go again’. She was the initial inspiration behind what we do.”
A firm believer that entrepreneurship can be taught, Purdy describes his own participation in an Enterprise Ireland programme, Leadership 4 Growth, as “life changing”. He said, “It gave me the confidence needed to take some substantial risks and reappraise my ambition. I don’t see why something similar can’t happen to school pupils at a much earlier age.”
Under Purdy’s stewardship, Ergo has created 120 new jobs and expanded its overseas operation in the five years since the recession began, bucking the economic trend with a capacity for reinvention that has kept the company growing for over 20 years.
Summing up what has made Ergo so successful, Purdy said, “Change is in our DNA. The culture of the company is predicated on partnering with clients and staying ahead of the curve, never standing still and spotting opportunities before everyone else.”
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