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RBS and RSA launch Manifesto for Youth Enterprise

Learning about enterprise needs to be embedded in the school curriculum to enable millions of children to learn the skills and develop the confidence to start their own business, according to a new Manifesto for Youth Enterprise published by the Royal Bank of Scotland and RSA.

A culmination of the findings from the first year of RBS’s Inspiring Enterprise initiative, the Manifesto argues that more could be done to help young people at every stage of their ‘entrepreneurial journey’ – from developing their entrepreneurial abilities in school to helping them start their own venture and supporting them as it develops.

As part of its aim to help 100,000 more young people discover entrepreneurship by 2015, RBS Inspiring Enterprise and the RSA spoke to over 120 young people to find out more about the barriers facing young entrepreneurs.

Key principles

The interviews enabled RBS and the RSA to set out a list of 15 key ‘principles’ designed to help more young people realise their entrepreneurial potential. These include:

  • Shining a light on the ‘everyday entrepreneurs’ that young people can more easily relate to and be inspired by, rather than celebrities that may put entrepreneurship on a pedestal
  • Exposing more young people to enterprise-related learning by embedding it throughout school curricula and FE/HE courses, rather than treating it as a bolt-on exercise
  • Going beyond traditional support such as financial help and advice, to provide young entrepreneurs with hands-on practical help –such as assistance with website development or help with filling in VAT returns – that would enable them to take their product or service to market more rapidly.
  • Ensuring support for young entrepreneurs gets beyond London and the ‘vogue industries’ like the creative and technology sectors, to support young people in whatever location or industry they are in
  • Supporting young people to sustain and grow their businesses throughout their entrepreneurial journey – not just in the early stages of establishing their venture
  • Boosting demand for the products and services of young entrepreneurs, for example by encouraging large corporations to build them into their supply chains or helping them win contracts with local authorities
  • Encouraging the media to avoid using the term ‘failure’ to describe the act of closing a business –explaining instead how dropping in and out of business is part and parcel of life as an entrepreneur

UK lags behind

More than 95% of firms in the UK employ less than 10 people, yet the research reveals that the UK lags behind France, Germany and the United States in terms of start-up rates among young people. One in 7 young people in the US are in the early stages of starting a venture, compared to 1 in 17 in the UK.

There is a gulf between the young people who aspire to start up their own businesses and those that actually achieve their goal, according to recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor figures. These show that of the 10% of young people who say they want to create their own business, only a third are actually doing so. Moreover, there is a 1 in 3 chance that those who do start-up will drop out within their first 12 months, compared to 1 in 10 people over the age of 30.

Flexible education

Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s adviser on enterprise, said that the UK had been through a revolution in the last 15 years since the internet reached “critical mass”, with the number of small firms soaring from 2.5m to more than 4m now. “It is a small firm’s world. This means a great difference in the way we prepare people for the world of work, in the way we educate them,” he said.

He said that children in the very early stages of their education were guided towards employed roles rather than working for themselves. He added that people were more likely to end up working for two, three or four different companies at a time, and “for this, we need an extremely flexible education system”.

He said as someone who last worked as an employee in March 1961, he could vouch for the benefits of running your own business.

“It is a great way to spend your life, working for yourself or in a small firm, because it is creative, constructive and I promise you it’s a darn sight more enjoyable,” he said.

Thom Kenrick, RBS Head of Sustainability Programmes, said: “Our findings reveal that enterprise support has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years alone. However, it is also clear that there is much more we could do to help young people start up in the world of business.

“Too few young people act on their ambition to start a business, and even if they do, many cease trading shortly after starting. This is something we are seeking to address through RBS Inspiring Enterprise.”

* The RBS Inspiring Enterprise project has committed by the end of 2015 to help 100,000 young people to explore enterprise, develop their skills and start up in business, whatever their background; to inspire and enable 20,000 women to explore and unlock their enterprise potential; and to support 2,500 social enterprises, working in partnership with the sector to improve access to expertise, markets and finance.

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