Youth services are being cut, EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) scrapped, tuition fees introduced, free training providers loosing funding and figures showing 1 in 5 young people out of work, it’s a tough time if you’re a young person starting out in the world at the moment and things don’t look set to change anytime soon, however I do believe there is a positive to come out of all this and it’s called youth enterprise.
There are so many talented young people out there with great gifts to offer the world but unfortunately they aren’t always given the right support and opportunities to be shown how, but with a little determination, motivation and the right support young people can achieve great things.
As a young person I left school aged 15 with no qualifications and little hope in way of a career path, in fact like many young people I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do so ended up doing nothing!
Luckily for me I managed to get myself back on track and I now run 2 social enterprises & 2 businesses and my qualification list is bigger than my arm! And this was all achieved before I turned 25. But I didn’t get there over night and it was a bit of an upward struggle! It’s hard enough setting up a business at any age but as a young person it is even more so, not only are you battling against people tacking you seriously because of your age there is also little out there in way of support and encouragement for young people taking this route.
The national curriculum has such a big focus on maths, English and science but where is the career development and choice? We only get one shot at life and we should be provided with the best possible opportunities and options from the start. Imagine the possibilities if young people from an early age were made aware of enterprise and social enterprise, and they were given the nurturing, motivation and skills required to develop their own products and tools and shown how to turn these into enterprises that not only create their own employment but that of others and volunteer placements to along with fantastic services that benefit the whole community? Image the awesome products, business and services that would start to nourish and grow, think about what it would do for our economy, for our future. Since setting up my enterprises I have supported over 200 young people, trained over 50 volunteers, supported 4 groups of people in setting up their own enterprises and secured over £600,000! That’s just the work of one young person, imagine the possibilities if all young people were shown how to do the same? What a powerful, wonderful world we would live in.
Youth enterprise is powerful and I believe the way forward to solving many of the problems with employment and the economy. More should be done to promote and encourage it both in schools and at home, we should be nurturing our young people and showing them the possibilities of what’s really out there for them to explore.
And you want to know the best part of all this? We don’t have to wait for someone else to do it, you can start to make a difference right now. There are some wonderful entrepreneurs of all ages with a number of great products and services out there, why not give up just an hour of your time volunteering as a mentor every couple of weeks or write a short journal of your experiences with your business, put together some use full tips and toolkits or even create a short video that can be submitted to young people to help them create what you were able to?
We can all do our bit and what a wonderful society it would be if we all helped make the change.
Louise Botwright – July 2011