31 Jul 2013

Is entrepreneurship the answer for young people?

With youth unemployment at high levels, a third of people under 30 say they expect to become their own boss one day.

We all know that finding the prefect job is never easy. It’s probably harder now than ever.

There is very little movement in the jobs market, wages aren’t keeping pace with inflation and millions of people either don’t have as much work as they would like – or don’t have a job at all. So is there an alternative? Another way to make a living without actually getting a job? You could try to create your own job instead.

One in four unemployed young people say they would rather set up their own business rather than to seek work in today’s competitive job market. Just imagine if they all did it, and then they all hired another couple of young people to work for them. We’d have almost solved the youth unemployment crisis at a stroke.

Maybe it’s the Apprentice factor – or the Dragon’s Den effect – but clearly young people think entreprenuerialship is sexy. Which could be great news for the British economy. But only a few of these ambitious young people will actually start working for themselves. Should we be doing more to encourage them?

Role models

I’ve been speaking to some impressive young business people who want to inspre other youngsters to follow in their footsteps. These are rolemodels who prove that entrepreneurs don’t all have to look like Richard Branson or Alan Sugar

Jamal Edwards is just 22 and already worth £8 million. He is climbing his way up the Sunday Times Rich List, Puma pay him to wear their trainers and David Cameron wants to be seen with him. It all began when he started filming his friends rapping on his housing estate in Acton, West London.

Those YouTube posts quickly grew into SBTV and he has now scored over 170 million hits for his online TV station. His speedy success is pretty startling but he doesn’t think he is exceptional.

He thinks others could easily emulate his success, so he has written a book about how to do it. Self Belief : The Vision is an e-book published in a series of levels that guide you through how to start up your own business.

Carly Ward

Carly Ward isn’t much older than Jamal. She started her own business, dedicated to helping young people start their own businesses, when she was just 19.

Unemployed for over a year and unable to find a course to teach her entrepreneurial skills she simply set up her own course instead.

Which may prove she didn’t need any help in the first place. But plenty of other young people do need guidance and Carly’s online YES Education module is now taught in schools and colleges all over the country.

Carly and Jamal both despair of how little entrepreneurial education was available to them, or is given to other youngsters in Britain today. They believe that education teaches us to be employees not employers, and that’s what’s damaging the British economy.

40,000 people in the UK are starting up their own businesses every month. There will be more companies formed in Britain this year than ever before. So some people are clearly aren’t being held back by a lack of education and training or by the tough economic climate.

But there is still a huge gap between the numbers of young people who want to launch their own start up and numbers who will ever actually do it.

One third of people under 30 tell pollsters they expect to become their own boss one day. If they all actually do that we will be looking at a very different British economy in future.