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

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

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Recruitment Genius: Chef

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Chef is required to join one of the largest ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is required to jo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
There are around 250 species of bumblebee in the world  

If you want to rumble a bumblebee, now’s your chance

Michael McCarthy
 

Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred

Simon Danczuk
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor