His inspirational message was delivered to more than 300 senior second-level students in West Cork taking part in a programme where they are encouraged to set up and run their own mini-enterprises.
Mr Puttnam, who sits in Britain’s House of Lords, was the keynote speaker for a conference ‘Leaders on Our Level’ organised for fourth and fifth-year students preparing for the West Cork Schools Enterprise Programme.
A mix of entrepreneurs and motivational speakers, led by Mr Puttnam, spoke about their life and business experiences in a bid to help the students realise the possibilities open to them in business. Mr Puttnam, who has a long association with West Cork, told the students: “You are the people the world has been waiting for. You hold the key to building the new foundations on which we can build a smarter economy and a more sustainable society.
“The world needs your generation to be more adaptable, smarter and better prepared for the challenges of everyday life and business life and this programme is one element which can help you to achieve this aim.”
He further assured them: “There is a whole world outside of the school gates and you have the ability to make it a better place by thinking more imaginatively. I urge you to use your abilities to create a better future not just for yourselves but for your region and the broader world.”
The conference was organised by the West Cork Enterprise Board. Chief executive Michael Hanley said: “Events such as this bring students into the business world where they are shown what the realities of running and managing their own business are.
“The enterprise programme is the first time in their school lives they are given control of setting up something which they will own and run and this is extremely important for them to develop vital practical business skills which they would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience. I commend their teachers who partake in the programme to help their students realise their full potential and motivate them to think big for the future.”
Schools taking part in the mini-enterprise programme include Mount Saint Michael, Rosscarbery; Rossa College, Skibbereen; Schull Community College; Beara Community School; Bantry Community College; Maria Immaculata Secondary School, Dunmanway; St. Brogan’s College Bandon; St Fachtna’s de la Salle Skibbereen; and Clonakilty Community College.
Among the ideas being developed by students are a utensil to help elderly people chop firewood, a full leg ice plaster for sports injuries, a comic book wallet and an interactive book to allow children create their own characters.
Schools will compete with their mini-enterprises in the West Cork Schools Enterprise finals in February, where one team will be chosen to participate at the national finals in Dublin.