More than one in four unemployed young people would rather set up their own business than search for a job, research for The Prince's Trust suggests.
Government figures show the number of self-employed young people has risen by 71,000 since the start of the financial crisis. At present, only 5 per cent of under 30s are their own boss. Signs suggest their aspirations are not a pipe-dream, either, as official government statistics show that the "can-do" spirit is being fostered by the fear of joblessness – and bolstered by TV programmes such as Dragon's Den and The Apprentice.
"This research reveals an increasingly entrepreneurial mood among young people," said Martina Milburn, chief executive of The Prince's Trust. "Five years on from the start of the recession, youth unemployment remains high and many are seeing self-employment as a way to break the cycle of joblessness."
One of those who has been successful is Lisa Duggleby, aged 25, from Burnley in Lancashire. The mother-of-two now runs her own business providing advice on wedding venues and styling. "I was looking for work but jobs are hard to come by in the area in the first place – never mind one that I could fit around my family."
It was helping a family friend to plan her wedding that gave her the idea of setting up her own business, she said. "I love weddings so I jumped at the chance to help out," she said. "It was then that I realised how expensive wedding venues and dressing can be and I thought I could do better." With a grant of £750 from the trust, she set about buying her first set of chair covers, business cards and sample pictures for her website and the business, Atmosphere Venue Dressing, was up and running.
The survey of 1,627 16- to 30-year-olds revealed that 43 per cent had made money from entrepreneurial activity such as selling a product they had made themselves or working on a freelance basis. More than half (52 per cent) expected to do so in future.
Professor Michael Hay, an expert in entrepreneurship at the London Business School, said: "Helping young people to beat unemployment and set up businesses can only be a good thing for the UK economy."