What can be done for more at-risk young people to become entrepreneurs?

The struggle to find sustainable employment is heightened among young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) and living in deprived communities. Despite initiatives to create more jobs, there is evidence to suggest a strong interest in entrepreneurship among young people in the UK.

A study on NEET young people’s views on entrepreneurship showed that 54% of 18 to 30-year-olds from the most disadvantaged regions in the UK would like to start a business. However, 54% of these young people are terrified of actually starting a business; only 22% know where to seek business advice and support, and only 8% would describe themselves as entrepreneurial.

According to the latest OECD Employment Outlook report, routine and low-skilled jobs are expected to decline by 12% in the UK by 2024. Although recent findings from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that at least 70% of 15- year-olds in the UK aspire to professional and managerial careers requiring tertiary education, low-achieving students have no intention of continuing their education after secondary school and high-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to realise such careers because they have a lower chance of pursuing post-secondary education.

What can be done?

The SPEED-You-UP project seeks to improve the entrepreneurial and employability skills of at-risk and NEET young people in deprived coastal regions of England, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. By encouraging young people’s appreciation of their talents and abilities as a springboard for launching a business, the project takes young people on a journey of self-discovery and confidence building. Through the project, young people have the opportunity to experiment with a business idea, which helps to raise their confidence and motivation.

According to three participants with no prior knowledge of starting a business and experiencing low self-belief: “Speed You-Up really helped us identify who we are and what we are trying to do and what we’re capable of doing.