Contributing to an Innovative, Technological, Entrepreneurial Nation

understanding-entreprenurship

 

 

Scotland business communities can positively engage, support and unleash the talents in widening access for all. Everyone can contribute to Scotland’s economy and add talent, diversity and prosperity to society. Furthermore, globally, the prevalence of disability is growing, with population ageing and increasing incidence of chronic health conditions (World Health Organisation/World Bank 2011).A

It is becoming more prevalent as everyone will have to re-imagine and align their skillsets at some stage in their lives as we face a less structured career path and, during this Fourth Industrial Revolution, we also need to think how we structure our society and the way the innovation and technological advancement will continue in years to come.

According to the OCED 2014 report on “Entrepreneurship and self-employment by people with Disabilities”, the data suggest that in Europe and the US self-employment rates are higher among disabled people than those without. Furthermore, the OCED report cited “Promoting entrepreneurship constitutes an important part of the Lisbon agenda and the Europe 2020 strategy which treats entrepreneurship as a key component  of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Entrepreneurship is perceived by policy-makers as a means of tackling labour market disadvantage and social exclusion more generally although others regard reliance on such options as over-optimistic, at least for some groups” (Kitching 2006; Blackburn and Ram 2006).

Meanwhile, according to the Scottish Government, A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People – Our Action Plan, 2016 and some of the actions under employment ambition is that “Disabled people are 20% of the population, but make up only 11% of the private sector workforce and 11.7% of the public sector workforce. (Scottish Government, A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People – Our Action Plan, 2016). It should also note that in 2017, self-employment rate for people with disabilities in Scotland stood at 14%, was higher than non-disabled people (11.7%). Also mentioned in the Scottish Government, A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People – Our Action Plan, there is ambitions to develop the Scottish Business Pledge and other employer networks will be used to raise awareness of the skills and capacity of the disabled workforce and their positive impact on company productivity and profitability. Elsewhere in the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all of Scotland’s people are able to participate in our nation’s entrepreneurial renaissance and reap the benefits from involvement in economic activity.  In Scotland CAN DO this vision was set-out; together, across the public, private and third sectors, we articulated a collective-impact approach through which we would unleash the economic potential of our nation.

However, people with disabilities still face barriers to entering and sustaining entrepreneurship. Many are to do with accessing enterprise and innovation services. They include are: access to start-up capital; limited business knowledge, skills and opportunities; absence of appropriate and supportive business advisers.

Referring to Shaheen (2016) who published a paper on “Inclusive Entrepreneurship”: A Process for Improving Self-Employment for People with Disabilities where it was highlighted a New York project based centred on “Inclusive Entrepreneurship” to describe a model that promoted change at the individual, program, and systems level to improve the rate of small business development by people with disabilities. Clearly, the US has been successful in implementing an entrepreneurial project for people with disabilities.

Now is the time to set clearly that physical impediment should not be in any form an inhibitor to being a part of the journey towards becoming a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation.  This outline marks the start of an exploration to ensure that Scotland CAN DO applies to people with disabilities in Scotland.

With the knowledge exchange approach this provides a perfect opportunity to up-skill people with disabilities and develop the creation of a supportive innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem from organisations in order to help realise the economic impact through contribution to society.  The design and the implementation of an entrepreneurial support system or initiative which support those who come from widening access backgrounds would be developed through a knowledge exchange base approach which support would-be disabled entrepreneurs and measures to provide intensive, tailored support to a highly targeted subgroups of disabled entrepreneurs. The outcome would deliver a supplemented intensive tailored support on an array of enterprise services.

The knowledge exchange from policies perspective provide a platform to develop policy actions on enterprises services for those who are marginalised from society accessing enterprise services and opportunities. At present, there is very limited policy support for disability entrepreneurship and what kind of initiatives being done. One of the common dilemmas for policy-makers is the differences between those disabled people who are ‘labour market ready’ and others, but with a higher probability of sustaining the businesses created and/or supported.

The support should recognise the individual’s very particular needs with regard to starting and running a business with a particular impairment but also their specific capabilities in terms of business and management knowledge and skills, and other personal characteristics, which influence the ability to become, and remain, an entrepreneur.

Through equality, diversity and culture of, fairness and inclusivity we must enable and unlock the innovative and creative talents from though widening access backgrounds. It is now time to harness a collective commitment as I firmly believe that with the resources, guidance and connections, we can make our important contributions to Scotland growing innovative, technological and entrepreneurial country. There is a gap that need to be addressed, widening access of enterprise services and a need to be better understand the context systematically and progressively for both academic perspective and practical consideration. With the engagement of the University of Strathclyde Research & Knowledge Exchange Services (RKES), it will empower me to champions and raise enterprise aspiration amongst widening access groups in society.

Personally, I look forward to engaging, supporting and collaborating with these organisations who provide support to spin-out innovative ventures through my Research & Knowledge Exchange journey at the University of Strathclyde to foster services for people with disabilities.

Dr. Julie McElroy

References

OCED (2014). “Entrepreneurship and self-employment by people with Disabilities”.

Blackburn, R. and Ram, M., 2006. Fix or fixation? The contributions and limitations of entrepreneurship and small firms to combating social exclusion. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development18(1), pp.73-89.

Scottish Government, A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People – Our Action Plan, 2016.

Shaheen, G.E., 2016. “Inclusive Entrepreneurship”: A Process for Improving Self-Employment for People with Disabilities. Journal of Policy Practice15(1-2), pp.58-81.

World Health Organisation/World Bank 2011.

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GRADUATION SUCCESS FOR INSPIRATIONAL RESEARCH STUDENT

Julie McElroy, who is profoundly deaf and also has Cerebral Palsy, graduated University of the West of Scotland (UWS) at a ceremony at Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church on Wednesday 12th July 2017 after successfully completing a ground-breaking PhD.

Julie’s PhD in Assistive Technology investigated the learning experiences of students with disabilities within tertiary education who use assistive technology as part of their learning experience. Julie hopes to use her research to develop a framework that can be used by education bodies to assist them in providing a better understanding of the key issues and interactions involved in the area of assistive technology.
Julie McElroy
Born with cerebral palsy, which affects the messages sent between the brain and the muscles as well affecting movements and co-ordination, Julie was told she would probably spend her life in a wheelchair.
Julie’s PhD studentship followed a degree in 2010 which she successfully completed at UWS. During her time at UWS she was awarded the UWS Court Medal 2010 for highest achieving student, won an Adult Learner of the Year Award 2012 from the Scottish Learning Partnership and awarded Glasgow Lord Provost Award in 2012.

 

Julie, commented:

“I want my research to influence the discussion to investigate disabled student experiences, understand their perspectives and hopefully contribute to a better understanding of students’ use of assistive technology and the extent to which it can enhance student learning and engagement.”

 

-Ends-

 

For further information contact:-

Niall Gordon (Senior Marketing Co-ordinator – PR)

Marketing & Communications, University of the West of Scotland

0141 848 3726 / 07764 285 882

 

 

Ultimate DofE Diamond Challenge

IMG_4484After ten months, Julie has put in the commitment and preparation into finding her ideal physical challenge which was the Strathkelvin Railway Path at Strathblanefield. This is going be quite a remarkable feat to conquer as her physical co-ordination is complex with her whole body moving all the time. With the effects of her muscles, she generates so much heat and uses far more energy to undertake these challenges. Robert Bell, Mountain Leader was on hand to support this challenge as he knows how much Julie’s body is up against with the spasticity in her body.

Robert Bell previously served fifteen years in the Army (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders).  Since leaving, Robert has gone onto crave various careers and one them in the outdoor pursuits and is qualified in many areas of the outdoor with young people at the forefront of his fulfilment.

Robert said, ’Julie’s challenge is her disability, the complexity of her walking gait and of course, her deafness.  Julie can tire quite quickly due to the physical exertion on her body, this means not only will it be physically demanding but mentally too. However knowing of Julie’s previous achievements in the outdoor pursuits arena, I know her determination to succeed will get her through’.

Furthermore, Julie was tasked to deliver the ultimate DofE Scotland Diamond by asking  Al Kellock, former Scottish Rugby Union player having played for Glasgow Warriors and Scotland to accompany on this countryside sponsored walk, will help cement the DofEScotland Diamond Challenge and captalise on DofEScotland 60th Anniversary celebrations and generate much funds to help enable more young people to complete their Awards over the next five years.

The walk itself was tough let alone in 30 degrees heat. Due to the nature of my Cerebral Palsy combine with the unprecedented heat, my body was seizing up with cramps. Thanks with the support of Al Kellock and Rab I successful completed it. We were also joined by Bob Hope who also sit on the Scottish Advisory Committee for DofE Scotland.

It is opportunities like these that have a lasting impact for my personal development. It was a tough physical challenge, I was overwhelmed that I achieved it.

It now time to reflect on the immense achievement. I have certainly had an exciting time champion the work of DofE Scotland.

Third DofE Challenge Instalement

My Diamond DofE journey is still going strong and have managed to pack in a busy schedule for the month of June and July.

Before I embarked on the most awesome and exhilarating Tall Ship voyage aboard the Lord Nelson in June I also undertook a cycle around Millport. This was a remarkable achievement as I rarely cycle in my local area due to my profound deafness.

The voyage was from Greenock to Greenock for five days! We sailed to Islay, Carskiey and Loch Striven. This voyage was a challenge as we had challenging weather to contend with, snow, winds, rain, sunshine. It was a perfect opportunity to highlight the work of the Duke of Edinburgh Diamond Award as it celebrates its 60th Anniversary.

One of many highlights of the voyage is when I had the opportunity to climb the rigging. I became quite overwhelmed with emotions. It was the combination of the weather, the health and safety and the ability to climb the rigging during the torrential rain. When I finally reached the platform, the sense of achievement was surreal that I had climbed the rigging during the cold weather. I was so exposed to the rain and winds when I was high up. You can read more about my experiences in the log available to read.

In July, I was also on hand to celebrate and highlight the achievements of over 1000 Gold Award holders at Holyrood Palace.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to teaming with former Scottish Rugby Internationalist, Al Kellock in August to do a short sponsored walk with Rab Bell who will be supporting me along the way. Hope the weather is kind to us!

You can also read about how my DofE has change my life and to where I am now via the Daily Record.
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/lifestyle/health-fitness/disabled-adventurer-pushes-herself-limit-8344093#ICID=sharebar_facebook#hWRLAC82wJwkHWFg.97

The Duke of Edinburgh Award does change a young person’s lives as I have seen the bestowed effect that it has on my life so I urge you to pledge to make a donation to enable DofE Scotland to make a difference to other young people life and to allow many more to do the Award in the year of its 60th Anniversary.

 

 

2nd DofE Diamond Instalement

The last month in the build-up to my DofE Scotland Diamond Challenges has been about three attributes, preparation, investment and commitment.

Delighted to say everything on track to far with Tall Ship adventure in June which is literally days away and I am organised and packed! That’s explained how much I am looking forward to it and taking the work of DofE Scotland Diamond Challenge out to sea!FullSizeRender

The Tall Ship which will I be sailing on is called the Lord Nelson with the Jubilee Sailing Trust. It promote the integration of people of all physical abilities through the challenge and adventure of Tall Ship sailing.

The Tall Ship will be challenging in every respect, rising during the night to start my Watch, cleaning toilets, pulling ropes. I will have the opportunity to develop seamanship skill, learning about steering the ship, navigation and climbed the rigging to work with the sails.  The weather is likely to be unpredictable too so the mentality will be put to the test too.

Also for the month of May, I have spent time sorting out my 2nd Diamond DofE Challenge which I will be teaming up with a true sportsman. He will be reveal in my next instalment! One of the obvious changes in my disability over the years is the complexity to handle my balance and spasticity. These combinations are making it challenging for me to undertake a physical climb as my body is coated spasticity entwined my endurance. Rab has seen it over the last 15 months since we’ve met so he knows how to adapt, what need to be done and carry on as normal!

Rab (Robert) Bell previously served fifteen years in the Army (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders).  Since leaving, Rab has gone onto crave various careers and one them in the outdoor pursuits and is qualified in many areas of the outdoor with young people at the forefront of his fulfilment. He is a qualified National Navigation Awards Scheme (NNAS) course provider and assessor. Also a qualified Summer Mountain Leader registered with Mountain Training Association and accredited Duke of Edinburgh Expedition Assessor up to Gold level.  He is also an adult instructor with the Army Cadet Force (ACF).

Over the few months, Rab and I have worked to assess what I can do, and Rab is lending his support these Diamond Challenge ‘Julie’s challenge is her disability, the complexity of her walking gait and of course, her deafness.  Julie can tire quite quickly due to the physical exertion on her body, this means not only will it be physically demanding but mentally too. However knowing of Julie’s previous achievements in the outdoor pursuits arena, I know her determination to succeed will get her through’.

I have been keeping Barry Fisher, Director of DofE Scotland up to date of my preparation for the Diamond Challenges, and he simply summed it up of what I have to go through and give pencil considerations to everything, “Wow – amazing to hear just what a difference the climb down makes in contrast to the climb up – but, as we have grown to know, your preparation for your challenge is impressive”.

In the next instalment you will be able to download my Tall Ship log and I will reveal my 2nd Diamond Challenge with the Scottish sportsman.

In the meantime, if you feel inspired by my DofE Diamond Challenge appeal, please donate generously to help more young people access and complete the DofE Award in Scotland.

 

First DofE Diamond Challenge

It is a pleasure to share my DofE Diamond Challenges Journey with you all and hope that you will be inspired to do your one-off DofE Diamond Challenge before December 2016 or donate to my DofE Diamond Challenge appeal.

As a recipient of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, I know how much the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme had taught me about myself. The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is the catalyst for the young people.

Over the coming months, I am going to embark on three challenges which will give you an insight into many attributes that has required to plan these Challenges. Why have I chosen three Challenges because behind each Challenges has a story to tell and they will all interlinks into my DofE journey that I have managed to carve out. It is going to be tough – even one person who is involved in my other two challenges cited, “a lot of factors for you to consider before you take on this challenge Julie”. I am also planning to record video diaries of this journey so you see some of the people I meet along the way and many whom are strong advocate of the DofE Scotland.

My first DofE Diamond Challenge is embarking on Tall Ship Sailing voyage in June. It is literally only 6 weeks to go and have just passed my medical assessment for this once in a lifetime experience to be part of my DofE Diamond Challenges.

Life on the high sea is something few landlubbers will ever experience and I am so looking forward to going on a Tall Ship Sailing voyage. The adrenaline rush is going through me but I am slightly nervous with my disability is more noticeable. In recent years, my balance associated my Cerebral Palsy has become unsteady with hyperextension in my legs proving difficult to release the muscles tone. The main challenge will be grabbing onto things and make sure I don’t fall overboard! The overall experience is going to be exhilarating, challenging and rewarding working as a voyage crew to man a Tall Ship for five days around Scotland. It will have it challenges in terms of the Scottish weather at this time of year also! I will be keeping a Tall Ship log and share the peril of sea life with you all when I arrive back on dry land so you will have an opportunity to read it. In the meantime, I will update you days before I embark on this Tall Ship voyage in June.

I hope my Diamond Challenges inspire you to donate generously to give today’s young people are given the attributes to go forward on the DofE and give the young people need the necessity to propel them on a pathway to achieving their aspirations following the completion of the DofE Award.

To donate to Julie’s DofE Diamond Challenge Appeal:
https://www.justgiving.com/juliemcelroydofe 

SIE Intern of the Year

Delighted to have been named SIE (Scottish Institute for Enterprise) Intern of the Year for the University of the West of Scotland for the academic session of 2015/2016.

Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) are a government funded charitable organisation whose aim is to promote and support entrepreneurship and enterprise amongst Scotland’s students. My role within the university is to support SIE’s work and raise awareness of our competitions and services amongst students and educators.

This year, SIE appointed two interns for the University of the West of Scotland, Julie McElroy, who is currently a final year PhD student based within the University’s School of Computing, was born both profoundly deaf and with Cerebral Palsy, which affects the messages sent between the brain and the muscles as well as her movements and co-ordination and Angela Castellano is a second year undergraduate Web and Mobile Development student. Angela reprised her role having started with SIE in a voluntary Ambassador position in 2014 before becoming an SIE intern last year.

Julie and Angela’s remit with the SIE was to complement the current activities of the SIE team, working closely to support initiatives which stimulate entrepreneurship within the student population at UWS. The key requirement was to support SIE activities and initiatives, for the benefit of UWS.

This year has been a successful year for SIE at UWS as Julie and Angela set out a clear objective to engage with staff and students at UWS. During their seven months internship, they have covered all four campuses, engaged with over 100 staff, engaged with over 1000 students. UWS interns were the first to represent at the first TEEN (Tertiary Education Enterprise Network) and more importantly encouraging students to enter annual SIE cash prizes competitions.

Julie says ” I am delighted for UWS and SIE. We set out to achieve & deliver a transformational turnaround for them both before I finished University.  Angela and I had a vision to improve engagement, collaboration with staff and connection with students. The rewards of hard work paid off. Thankyou to all the staff and students throughout UWS this year for their engagement”.