A new initiative aimed at reducing youth unemployment and creating up to 5,000 new young entrepreneurs has been unveiled in Birmingham.
The 3% Campaign will look to provide a unique support package to help the region raise the number of under-25s in self employment by 0.9 per cent by 2012.
The scheme, led by the Young People’s Enterprise Centre of Expertise (YPECOE), will provide business mentors, encourage greater access to investment, create masterclass events, develop support for enterprise in education and address the possibility of launching special enterprise apprenticeships.
If this new approach works it will make the West Midlands the most enterprising place in the UK for young people and reflects recent research which shows more than 4.4 per cent are engaged in early stage activity compared to a national average of just 3.4 per cent.
Jackie Brierton, of YPECOE, said: “Youth unemployment is at its highest level since official records began and in the West Midlands we have the highest Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant rate for 18 to-24 year-olds of all the regions.
“This is just a statistic, but the real picture is one of few employment prospects for individuals leaving school, college and university and a desperate need to look at alternative ways of creating jobs. Self-employment is often over-looked.”
She continued: “We – and many of our partners – believe this is an area we should focus on and the 3% Campaign is a visible commitment to exploring this potential by putting together a tailored support package that meets the requirements of young people going on their own.”
The 3% Campaign, which is backed by Advantage West Midlands and Business Voice WM, was introduced to more than 100 delegates at Austin Court Conference Centre this week.
It is the result of recommendations that have come out of new research carried out by research firm ERS into young people, the barriers they face and sources of support.
Among the key findings were:
* Relatively small amounts of funding can be instrumental in enabling young people to start productive businesses, but there is a gap in provision for those who do not meet the Prince’s Trust deprivation criteria or those not on student enterprise schemes.
* Young entrepreneurs have short work histories and require business advisers and mentors who have relevant business experience to provide essential knowledge.
* Young entrepreneurs highlighted the loneliness of working on their own when starting a business and the need for a pro-active support network.
* Application forms for support are perceived as excessively bureaucratic and jargon-laden, deterring young entrepreneurs not familiar with the terminology and business.
* Although a culture change is reported, many of our young skilled entrepreneurs are entirely disengaged from school.
* Enterprise activities in schools are highly valued and supported, with the emphasis on getting young entrepreneurs involved in the Further Education sector.
James Watkins, chief executive of Business Voice WM, said getting more young people into work would boost the region’s economy.
He said: “If we can hit the magic three per cent mark we will have more than 20,000 young people in self employment, all contributing to the wealth of the region and helping to create employment opportunities for others.
“This is a big jump, but one that we can achieve if we work together to embrace this new approach and this will require SMEs, multi-nationals, education, business support professionals and community groups all playing their role and investing time into making it work.
“A vibrant environment for young enterprise can only be good news for the West Midland economy.”