It's Global Entrepreneurship Week and the economic news has been relentlessly dire all week. Youth unemployment has topped one million and the Bank of England has slashed the growth forecast to one per cent.
Would-be entrepreneurs — especially the young people that GEW is aimed at — could well be further encouraged to take steps towards self-employment, not least because other employment options are so limited.
Today’s Guardian newspaper highlights the young people, including graduates, who have been working for free stacking shelves at some of the big supermarkets under threat of losing their Job Seeker’s Allowance. This “free labour” is dressed up as “work experience” and with little prospect of a paid job at the end of it.
Surely this state of affairs must make self-employment a whole heap more attractive to young people seeking work. So how is the Government encouraging and supporting would-be entrepreneurs?
The good news is that inspiration and advice is not in short supply, judging by the number of new initiatives being launched this week. Business Minister Mark Prisk and Business Secretary Vince Cable have been doing the rounds during Global Entrepreneurship Week unveiling new schemes to help entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs.
Here’s a round-up of the latest initiatives:
There are some common threads here. Enterprise champions, rising business stars and mentors — presumably volunteering their time — are at the heart of many of these initiatives.
When it comes to inspiring and guiding new entrepreneurs, there is much to be said for learning from people who have been there and done that. But let’s hope that this “free labour” provides the necessary support for the next generation of entrepreneurs.