One of my abiding memories of my dear Grandad was of him pontificating about what young folk were up to – always started with “the youth of today”. I kind of forgave him for that because in his time communication methods were less sophisticated than they are now and his interaction with the so called “youth” was very limited and I guess his opinions were helped along by the newspapers he read.
So when I heard someone saying it a couple of weeks ago it drew me up.
How can it be that people still talk about “the youth of today” in 2012 if they were one huge amorphous mass?
I have the privilege of working with young people involved in the Young Enterprise Company programme http://www.yes.org.uk/secondary.htm. Between September and March each year teams of young people form and run a company. This involves forming a board -with the recognised director roles, raising capital , choosing or creating a product or service, undertaking market research, selling , accounting, managing the people involved, dealing with problems – in fact everything that happens in a real business except their experience is condensed into little more than six months.
Here in Edinburgh and Lothian we have a wide range of young people taking part each year from both the state and independent sector. Each one of them is packed full of potential and apart from creating an environment, to allow them to experiment and perform, we hope to support them to recognise and understand their strengths and talents.
The joy for me of working with younger folk is that they come with very little baggage and – in my experience – are willing to try things that us older heads might dismiss . We ask the adult volunteers to act as their mentors, to ask questions, to help them develop their own ideas rather than telling them what to do. I know from the conversations I have had with some that it can be really difficult but it is definitely worthwhile.
The disappointment for me is when such experiences are not valued by parents. To be fair I think there is still a lot of confusion around enterprise and entrepreneurship and although during the YE competition the students are required to set up a company, we know from the interviews at the end, that most have realised what they have learned will be useful at work, while only a few think they might set up their own businesses.
With all of the current talk about school leavers and students not being work ready here is a great example of how a programme, that is nearly 50 years old, gives young people a real life taste of business.
Maybe we should give that group the challenge of banishing “the youth of today” tag once and for all.
If you would like to learn more about Young Enterprise get in touch Jackie@consultcameron.com