By Marcus Leach

Ernst & Young has today pledged its support to the UK’s young business leaders and social entrepreneurs with a new programme of free business workshops.

The scheme — called Accelerate - will also form part of the Government’s ‘Business in You’ campaign, which has been launched to encourage the start up and growth of small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Accelerate will initially run as a series of 14 workshops over five months, which will be led by Ernst & Young’s people. The workshops will be aimed at those with different levels of business experience, from start up’s through to established enterprises, and will provide advice on issues such as planning and forecasting, to scaling up a business, sales effectiveness and taxation.

Over 300 places will be available on the scheme, with participants identified through a number of not-for-profit organisations that Ernst & Young already works with, including The Prince’s Trust, UnLtd, Bright Ideas Trust, Social Business Trust, Teach First and the top 10 winners of Striding Out’s 2011 Future 100 awards.

Iain Wilkie, partner at Ernst & Young, said that a recent survey by Ernst & Young of over 1000 entrepreneurs had shown that 48% of young business leaders would benefit from tailored support.

“With the UK economy in a tough place, it has never been more important to encourage entrepreneurship in the UK," he added.

“Ernst & Young has a long standing relationship with entrepreneurs; we’ve been running our global Entrepreneur Of The Year awards programme for over 25 years. However, Accelerate is an opportunity for us to provide practical support to these future engines of the economy and for us to make the difference to them.

“Through the workshops, we hope to help young business leaders and social entrepreneurs to grow and develop their companies and employees by providing a quality of support and advice that they may not otherwise have had access to. We are really excited about this and if the initial programme is successful, we will look to expand it further.”

Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk said such programmes allow the youth of today to follow in already successful footsteps.

“There are some great inspirational success stories across the UK of businesses that have started up and grown into successful local, national and international companies. We want people to follow their example, realise their own business potential and help make 2012 the year of enterprise," he said.

“I know that starting and growing your own business can be a daunting task, but there is help available to potential entrepreneurs who have the desire to take their ideas forward. The government is providing more opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to either start or grow their business, which in turn will help boost the UK economy.”

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