Historically we have been known as a “nation of shopkeepers” but there has been concern in recent years about a lack of entrepreneurial spirit. For a country, which has a wealth of businesses that are small to medium sized enterprises, we need to make sure we are prepared to discuss the option of entrepreneurship and where it may fit into the career journeys of young people, alongside the more obvious options. For example, when discussing routes into Hairdressing we could look at examples of training and business models which can allow young people to progress from being a salon assistant to either running their own salon or, being self-employed via the “rent a chair” model or mobile hairdressing. It is part of our job as careers professionals to show young people just what might be possible longer term and the help they can access on the way.
We know there are many different options out there for young people, from Apprenticeships through to Sixth Form, College, School Leaver Schemes and Higher Education via full time, part time or distance learning. Yet sadly, the relevance of entrepreneurship is often not given our full attention, either as a welcome side line to the previous options or independently, even though a significant number of young people may have already started their own business or be considering starting one after finishing GCSEs, College, Sixth Form or Higher Education.
Entrepreneurship is an option which is often out of the comfort zone of many of us in education, unless we have experience of this ourselves, as it can seem fluid and intangible. There is the danger that we overlook the importance of guiding young people on how they can launch their own businesses. Young people could look to take the vocational training from their apprenticeship or college course and build a business around the skills they have developed or gain skills through more entrepreneurial activities such as online trading (buying and selling goods), Kickstarter campaigns or traditional market trading.
Common barriers young people have to setting up their own business include trade specific knowledge (where applicable), experience and finance alongside a robust business plan. Education and training can often tackle the first two barriers but it is no surprise that the latter two are significant barriers to many (unless they have access to finance and mentoring through family or friends).
There are, however, some really useful sources of support for young people wishing to pursue this option at a young age. Our most obvious source of support is the built in experience and knowledge which comes from on the job training via apprenticeships and school leaver schemes- in the longer term this foundation can provide a launch pad for young people to set up their own business. Additional support includes business advice from a variety of organisations such as the British Chambers of Commerce who can identify your local chamber, where advice and guidance around business planning can be accessed.
High street banks can often provide access to a range of business support advisers. Charitable organisations and schemes such as The Prince’s Trust and Shell Live Wire can provide mentoring as well as funding support. These sources sit alongside county specific mentoring support such as the Kent Foundation in Kent. This isn’t unique to Kent – various networks exist across the country, details of which can be found on the Start-up Britain website.
These are all useful sources of support and can represent a starting point for many young people, who have the confidence and acumen to pursue this path to a potentially successful future. It is our job to ensure we communicate the support on offer clearly and not omit this option, when discussing choices with young people. It is also important that we encourage and nurture this spirit in our young people, whether through schemes such as Young Enterprise in school, or through the support of friends and family to set up bake sales or similar for charity.
Where to Get Careers Advice
CXK provides confidential and impartial careers information, advice and guidance to help you make decisions on learning, training and work opportunities. If you’re a young person looking for support, or a parent looking for careers advice for your young person, visit our Careers Advice for Young People page.
The National Careers Service provides free, up to date, impartial information, advice and guidance on careers, skills and the labour market in England to anyone aged 13 and upwards.
To speak to a National Careers Service adviser, call 0800 100 900 or use our webchat (8am to 10pm, 7 days a week)