Making 2018 the year of young entrepreneurs

Olga Kozlova

Making 2018 the year of young entrepreneurs

2018 has been designated Scotland’s ‘Year of Young People’ with the Scottish Government announcing support for a range of activities happening all across Scotland.

What hasn’t come across in the recent announcement is the importance of developing an entrepreneurial mindset amongst young people.

I’ve spent the past seven years working with brilliant individuals in our Universities that are helping young students to develop their ideas and create businesses that are shaping our economy and improving society.

Recently I came across an interesting statistic from research carried out by LinkedIn. It revealed that people born between 1960 and 1980 had on average two jobs by the age of 32. For young people nowadays this number has doubled. Millennials that graduated between 2006 and 2010 are likely to have more than four jobs within their first 10 years of employment.

There are a number of reasons for this increase. While employers are looking for transferable skills that contribute to the growth of their organisations, employees are searching for jobs that offer them better benefits, higher salaries and a work-life balance among other things. And, they are not afraid to change jobs if they feel that’s best for their career progression.

This active pursuit of change displays ambition and requires a number of attitudes and skills. This includes the ability to spot potential opportunities and not being scared of change or failure. These are all core attributes linked to an entrepreneurial mind-set. It’s something that exists within all of us – it’s just how much we embrace it.

Entrepreneurs are known to thrive on uncertainty but in reality they evaluate risks just like the rest of us. However in many cases they take bigger the risks, resulting in bigger rewards and this is what drives entrepreneurial innovation.

2018 is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on our young people, to celebrate them and to learn from them. For organisations involved with higher education, this year is a reminder to recognise what skills they need and how best to support their development. More and more young people are considering starting a business as an attractive career path, research carried out by Santander Universities in 2016 highlighted that a third of students across UK were either considering starting a business or have already established one.

Looking within Scotland, Young Enterprise Scotland, a charity that offers enterprise and entrepreneurship programmes for young people, last year engaged with nearly 15,000 young people, an increase of over 8% from 2015. Scottish Institute for Enterprise, an organisation that supports Further and Higher Education students to start businesses, had a 14% increase in entries than previous years. And Converge Challenge, the company creation programme for all Scottish Universities, has had over 50% increase in the number of applications from undergraduate students within the last year – a number that has trebled since 2013. Such growth confirms that young people are not only interested in becoming entrepreneurs but also understand that entrepreneurial skills and mindset are useful irrespective of their chosen career path.

This is all encouraging, however more needs to be done to help young people from all backgrounds to develop their entrepreneurial mindset and the skills that will contribute to their future success.

We need to help by connecting them with the right role models from real life entrepreneurs visiting primary and secondary schools to highly specialised master classes on commercialisation of innovation for university postgraduate students.

Recently published figures demonstrate that Scotland has achieved its highest business creation rate in 17 years. To see this number grow further, we need to join forces to make sure that a 100% of our young people have the chance to develop their entrepreneurial mindset. We need to enable them to thrive within this environment of constant change and opportunities.

Wouldn’t it be great if 2018 was the year that started a real change in Scotland – a change that encourages our young people to imagine themselves as our next generation of successful entrepreneurs, transforming the economy and making a difference to our public services. We can all play our part starting from 1 January 2018.