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

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Broker / Purchaser

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Call Centre Manager - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative online car purc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The possibility of Corbyn winning has excited some Conservatives  

Labour leadership: The choice at the heart of the leadership campaign

Jeremy Corbyn
Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos  

Greece debt crisis: Trouble is, if you help the Greeks, everyone will want the same favours

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson Charlotte McDonald-Gibson
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks