Richard Branson: We need a nation of young entrepreneurs

 

Share
Related Topics

Last week's staggering youth unemployment figures leave our nation facing an immense challenge: what do we do with our missing million young people? I believe we need to encourage all young people to consider an alternative to the traditional career path, and I think entrepreneurship offers some hope.

I identify with these young people. As a young businessman, I faced my fair share of difficulties when I was starting up. Our music mail-order business was almost brought down by postal strikes in the early 1970s, but we adapted, and that prompted me to start Virgin record stores. My desire to do something different and take a few risks along the way has been at the heart of the Virgin story from the beginning.

In my experience, many young people have in them an entrepreneurial spirit and they display exceptional drive. But each of them will need support on their journey. Large enterprises and government can and must do more to help these young entrepreneurs. This means adapting policy and taking practical steps to ensure the opportunities are there for those brave enough to take them.

It's my strong belief that those with the power to help should be encouraged to do exactly that: to nurture talent, to provide advice and to provide investment where required. Increasingly we are hearing more about how big business needs to play its role in society for the greater good. We all have a role to play and it makes business sense. In fact, consumers demand that business be responsible.

In 2010, we launched Virgin Media Pioneers, an online community for young entrepreneurs, with the aim of helping young people realise their potential. By championing a cause that is both close to my heart and vitally important to the future of the UK's economic recovery, we are providing easy access to peers, practical advice from experts and tangible support for young entrepreneurs.

And now we have set up Control Shift: The Rise of Young Entrepreneurs, a campaign that gives a voice to young, aspiring entrepreneurs and puts them at the centre of the conversation – about the obstacles they face and their ideas on the best ways to overcome them. Their ideas are at the heart of the Control Shift action plan we are this week putting to the Government, to business and to young people.

The young entrepreneurs want a culture shift in the school system that will ensure self-employment and enterprise are promoted as a viable career path and that appropriate training is available.

The message is loud and clear from young entrepreneurs – they have told us that it would be easier for them to get a loan to study enterprise than to get a loan to start an actual business. With university fees costing more than ever, a three-year academic course can't continue to be the only option for ambitious school-leavers.

So can we unlock huge economic benefits by remodelling the Student Loan Company as the Youth Investment Company and offer start-up loans to young people on the same terms as student loans? They also believe that we should consider introducing options for accelerated university degree courses that would make study more efficient and affordable.

I have long advocated that a full-time university education lasting 18 months, with shorter holidays, would result in less debt and more motivated students who are prepared for the jobs of the future. These proposals should be listened to. The future of our young people is not something that can be addressed by government alone; it will also require leaders in the business sector to play their role to drive the change we need.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS2 Teacher required from October

£90 - £120 per annum: Randstad Education Hull: Key Stage 2 Supply Teacher requ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures (an SThree br...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education require a ...

SEN Teacher - Hull

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting for spe...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Underground, Overground, over the Irish Sea and clever pigs

John Rentoul
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor