Can hard times breed new biz
Though unemployment has fallen by 0.1%, to 8.3%, there were still 2.65 million people out of work in the three months to February 2012, the latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics report. While this may look like a very small drop, it’s the first quarterly fall since the three months to May 2011, so we should be pleased for any movement in this direction.
Shockingly, youth unemployment – though it has also come down by 0.1% – is still the biggest age group out of work, affecting a whopping 22.2% of 16 to 24 year olds. Naturally, questions are being raised as to what effect this experience will have on this generation.
While it’s a dispiriting and worrying time for many, some are carving out work as part-time freelancers, working when there is work offered rather than being in full-time positions. “Obviously, I take work whenever I get a call,” says 22-year-old Jesse, who is hoping for a career in the film industry and picks up ad hoc work as a runner. “But I’m working on a script and I’m going to make a short to show what I can do.”
He’s characteristic of those who believe a new generation of entrepreneurs will be created, as young people go into business for themselves. This is a phenomenon that was seen in the Great Depression in 1930s America.
Andrew Gilbert, managing director of data centre and communications firm Node4, began his company at the age of 23. It has grown 363% over the past five years and now has a turnover in excess of £11m per year.
“The 16 to 24 age range is a very significant period for young people in the formative years of their working lives,” he says. “Many talented young people who are struggling to get their foot on the career ladder will be forced by the economic conditions to set up their own enterprises. Many people had great ideas in the past for new businesses, but may not have had the courage to go it alone. In the current economic climate, the severe constraints we currently have make starting up a business a much more appealing option.
“At the age of 23, I was very fortunate in that I had an idea for my business which I felt could work, but I also had the courage to follow through and some supportive investors. But at the centre of my plan was the desire to control my own destiny and develop my idea to empower businesses to save money through technology. Today, that dream has resulted in Node4 owning a string of rapidly growing data-centre sites across the UK, making us Britain’s largest independent provider of local data centres. What UK industry needs is for more young people to be more enterprising by researching their ideas and applying their talents, bright minds and aspirations to the world of business.”
Watch this space!