If you won’t give me a job, then I’ll make my own, thank you very much.
That seems to be the attitude of young people in Britain since the financial crisis struck in 2008. As the FT reported yesterday, a third of young participants in recent YouGov research said that they believe they would be self-employed in the future, and around a quarter said they would be within five years.
Better yet, it’s not all just a pipe dream. The number of self-employed young people is up by 71,000 since 2008, says the FT. In 2011, the Guardian put together a great list of those who made successful businesses. It’s surprising what sorts of things they’ve been doing – everything from blogging to a service that arranges for restaurants and cafes to fill up a special water bottle for free (thus saving a fortune on overpriced Evian).
I’ve blogged on this issue before, when 17-year-old Nick D’Aloisio sold his app to Yahoo! for £18. Jammy git. It’s this kind of success that has led to calls for kids to be taught more coding at school. There’s no shortage of proficient Microsoft Word users, but how many of them can create a macro? Or write a webpage in CSS?
Dragon’s Den celeb and multi-millionaire entrepreneur Peter Jones wrote at the end of last year that all Britain lacks an embedded cultural dream. He likens it to the American dream, where kids are brought up believing they can do anything. Often, that leads to disappointment, but it also leads to many more cases of people actually succeeding. There’s a good reason why the US is the world’s leading innovator.
Bottom line: the umph is there. All we need is a spark.