Entrepreneur says youth must create their own jobs

February 18, 2011

When Brown University student Walker Williams had difficulty finding part-time job listings, his response was to launch his own job-search website, Jobzle.com. But a crucial factor in transforming the website from a hobby to a business was the funding it got through startup accelerator Betaspring.

“It gave us the money, the offices, resource space and mentorship to focus on the product 100 percent,” the 22-year-old Williams said.

The Young Entrepreneur Council is one organization that aims to support entrepreneurs through ways such as education. Given the high youth unemployment rate – more than half of Americans aged 16 to 24 were unemployed according to a July 2010 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – founder Scott Gerber is a firm believer that youth must create their own jobs.

“I think entrepreneurship used to be a renegade’s choice, but today it’s a viable career path,” said Gerber, author of “Never Get A ‘Real’ Job“, whose mantra is “you need to create a job to keep a job.”

The organization recently released results of its Youth Entrepreneurship Survey, conducted by YEC and the Buzz Marketing Group, which gauged the needs of underemployed and unemployed youth.

The findings of 1,632 respondents aged 16-39 included:

  • 24 percent hold part-time jobs while 52 percent had full-time work
  • 35 percent of respondents with jobs had a business on the side to supplement their income
  • 89 percent believe entrepreneurial education is needed, but 73 percent were not offered classes on entrepreneurship in college
  • 89 percent who are self-employed don’t feel they have enough support from the government

The results re-affirmed for the 27-year-old Gerber the need for entrepreneurial education, which YEC provides through peer-to-peer education.

“We’re working with the best and brightest people and we’ll bring these young people’s perspectives to college campuses, recent grads and to high school students,” said Gerber. “So people can see their peers in action, realize that there is a community and there is a way to become entrepreneurial.”

Walker Williams has found his entrepreneurial education from Jobzle.com to be invaluable.

“I think the skills you learn from being forced into a position where you’re responsible for everything, from legal to marketing to taxes, is to just give you an incredible experience that a job doesn’t provide,” said Williams. “It’s almost like a secondary education.”

Gerber added the barriers to becoming an entrepreneur include education, being able to afford healthcare and support from the private and public sectors.

Support for entrepreneurs is crucial, according to Williams.

“There could always be more financial and mentor support,” said Williams. “When you look at this task in front of you every little bit helps convince you that this is something I can commit to. This is something I could spend the next six months working on.”

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