Young entrepreneurs: this generation

Simon Woodroffe's calling it the new rock 'n' roll, Imran Hakim says it's the latest fashion. It's the basis of a TV show that has become a hit in almost 20 countries across the globe. And in September this year, a new academy for it costing £32m will be joining the National Skills Academy network.

Entrepreneurship is officially hot news.

But the entrepreneurs who are really at the centre of the frenzy aren't the ones who've been doing it for years, with multi-million pound empires and global conglomerates. The stars of the new rock 'n' roll are the under-25s.

And the government has tuned in to that.

In the 2007 Budget, Gordon Brown announced £180m over three years for enterprise education in the UK. That's £17,000 per year for each secondary school. That follows the 2001 introduction of the Business & Enterprise A-level.

Lord Peter Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, says that investing now in tomorrow's entrepreneurs "is more important than ever. In fact, it's one of the most important things I can think about committing to as a government. They are the wealth creators of tomorrow."

Entrepreneur Peter Jones, who has pioneered the new National Skills Academy for Enterprise, has stressed the need to "successfully unlock the talent of Britain's young people and realise the potential of the UK to lead the world in entrepreneurship."

Why do all these people feel so strongly that it'll take young blood to get the heart of the economy pumping again?

In essence, they want to build a happier, more productive working world in the UK to drive the economy. The Young Enterprise (YE) Company Programme gets school kids setting up their own businesses. A 2008 survey of its alumni found that 77% felt fulfilled and engaged by their jobs. That compares with just 59% of the non-YE control group.

YE alumni were twice as likely to start businesses as their peers - and let's remember that it's small businesses that account for 90% of the economy - and on average had higher salaries. In the 30+ age group, YE alumni were being paid £10-20,000 more than those who hadn't taken part in the scheme.

And amongst 18-21 year-olds, 16% of YE-ers had set up or were in the process of setting up a business, compared with just 3% of the control group.

But are the "wealth generators of tomorrow" responding to the government's keenness to get them creating companies? Well, whether it's because of government plans or not, it does seem that entrepreneurship is becoming more popular among young people.

The Make Your Mark Challenge, the world's largest one-day enterprise challenge for 14-19 year-olds, saw a 46% increase in participants in 2008 from the previous year, with 56,000 teenagers taking part. Its counterpart, the Make your Mark with a Tenner competition, doubled in size since launching in 2007, from 10,000 to 20,000 participants in 2008.

Coventry University, which offers one of the broadest ranges of entrepreneurship-based or related degree courses in the UK, saw its Add+Vantage entrepreneurial scheme rise in numbers from 300 in 2006-07 to 560 in 2007-08.

We use cookies to create the most secure and effective website possible for our customers. Full details can be found here