Every cloud has a silver lining

The Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), announced last Wednesday, set out the government budget for the upcoming term. The 106-page document showed an average of 19% spending cuts across departments with the exception of the NHS, schools budget, international aid and some ‘universal’ benefits. It was, however, extremely thin on the support for young people and their entrepreneurial aspirations. While there was nothing explicitly outlined for young people I feel there are aspects within the CSR as well as general coalition rhetoric which should give hope to those entrepreneurs and the supporting organisations.

Firstly, the drive towards localism whereby the impetus is placed on local spirit, local society and local enterprise will have large opportunities for entrepreneurs. No longer does ‘bigger’ mean ‘better’ and to fulfil the needs of a community, small enterprises have the opportunity to fill the void.

Secondly, many public sector organizations and quangos are being shut-down which will put the emphasis on, or at least opportunity for, social enterprises. If we can get young people into understanding the role of social enterprise as well as its benefits to the community and wider society then, again, opportunities for enterprise is large. Finding a service to deliver on a local level at a time when centrally-controlled/funded organisations are being shut down opens a huge door.

Lastly, there will be a rise in tuition fees for universities. There are current discussions taking place as to whether there will be a ceiling on these fees at around £7000 or if the individual universities can increase the rate infinitely. This will mean a large number of students will not go to university and so the provision for considering self-employment needs to be implemented earlier.

From an entrepreneurial point of view, this may be the perfect reason not to go to university and to start a new business. Gone are the ridiculous days that university attendance is a ‘right-of-passage’; university doesn’t and shouldn’t suit everyone and unreasonably large numbers hurts all. Think about the return on the investment of going to university; how likely is getting a job with this degree and does the future income genuinely add to more than the investment (and its interest)?

There could be no better time to consider starting a business and becoming self-employed. The change in the political framework and ethos has started to open these doors of opportunity. There are difficulties and there are challenges, namely that of initial funding and support, but organisations such as Think Enterprise and the Young People’s Centre of Expertise are working hard to make the coalition aware of such issues.

In exploiting these recent changes at both local, regional and national level will offer the viable alternative to university and, indeed, unemployment. Changing perception and encouraging aspiration takes time but the rewards for the individual as well as society could be huge.

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