There were many calls for greater opportunities to develop skills that are needed for entrepreneurial activities, including in schools. Hawawu, a 27-year-old woman from Ghana, stated:
“What we need is to be able to develop our entrepreneurial skill and abilities, so that instead of us waiting to be employed, we can create jobs for ourselves and employ others, too… entrepreneurship alone might be the solution; other skill development areas such as vocational, technical and business skills could [also] be exploited. Further, our educational curricula must be designed to bridge the gap already created by our system of education, especially in Africa.”
On the upside…
Many participants remarked that, in recent years, the number of successful youth entrepreneurs has risen. Positive examples of youth entrepreneurship were cited in several countries, including the Bahamas, Kenya and Cambodia. In some cases, such as the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia, young entrepreneurs gather together and share their experiences and lessons learned.
On the downside…
Ayshah, 26, from Kenya also pointed out that “not everybody is an entrepreneur.” Participants acknowledged that some aspects of entrepreneurial talent, such as risk-taking, cannot be developed with training or resources. They indicated that it is very difficult to create a new business from scratch, including due to the sometimes limited availability of credit among young people as well as to a lack of trust and confidence in them. In fact, most participants who were themselves young entrepreneurs mentioned that they had inherited their business from their parents. In this way, it remains a family business and is thus considered self-employment. Given the risks inherent to entrepreneurship, and recognizing that it does not always lead to decent and productive work, self-employment – in the words of Nikola, 24, from Croatia – may be viewed as “one of the solutions”.
Frank, 26, from the United States, with the organization, World Faith, shared a cautiously optimistic view of youth entrepreneurship:
“I'd be interested in hearing more about how we can encourage youth entrepreneurship in the face of a bad economy. Historically, entrepreneurship has created new employment opportunities, but in the current economy, there are external factors, like industry protections, and internal factors, like high student debt, that seem to be curtailing the entrepreneurial instinct.”
In many cases, participants rather commented on their frustration with not being able to contribute more towards decent work. Jasmin, 17, from Malaysia observed during the e-discussion that there seemed to be “more negative employment trends…than positive. I’m sure everyone here hopes for better.” Others remarked that it should be easier for young people to find work, earn respect and live decently.
Numerous comments shared by participants revealed a sense of neglect on the part of Governments to the youth employment challenge, and worried about the implications for young people’s potential. Sandra from Slovenia wrote: “…everything seems good on paper, but unfortunately…Governments don't do a lot to implement ideas...just think about how many young people there are in the world with huge potential, who could actually implement so many ideas but because of some reason the chances are not given to us... It's like they are not interested in making the situation better...”