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School-age entrepreneurs more likely to be self-employed in later life

September 25, 2012

A new report for Young Enterprise, based on independent research, found that people who set up their first business at school are twice as likely to become self-employed in their adult life.

The research – “Impact: 50 Years of Young Enterprise”, carried out by Kingston University Business School for Young Enterprise, found that if young people are given the opportunity to run an enterprise whilst at school, the chances of them later becoming business owners is 42%, compared to a mere 26% of those who are not given the opportunity early on.

The survey was compiled using extensive interviews with almost 400 individuals (‘alumni’) who attended Young Enterprise events over the past 50 years, and then compared to a ‘control group’ of just over 200 people who had not attended these, or similar events.

The study also found that firms run by alumni of Young Enterprise were more likely to turnover over £0.5m per year (12% compared to 3% of non-alumni). Alumni firms also tend to employ more people, engage in more diverse types of business sector, and adopt innovation more rapidly.

Interestingly, the survey findings coincided with a separate Young Enterprise survey which showed how negative most younger people feel about employment prospects.

The second survey, conducted by Opinium, found that 63% of 14-18 year olds were either worried about finding work in the future, or were “terrified” about being unable to find a job due to the economic downturn.

Commenting on the findings from both studies, Michael Mercieca, Young Enterprise Chief Executive said that it has never been more important to give children the chance to be entrepreneurial at school.

“At a time when youth unemployment remains unacceptably high, this research shows how vital it is to give young people the chance to run businesses at school. It demonstrates that Young Enterprise has, for 50 years, been an enormous engine nurturing the crucial entrepreneurial talent that Britain desperately needs to revive the economy.”

Some of the charity’s better known alumni include Nick Ogden (inventor of WorldPay), Bob Wigley (Chairman of Yell), Jonathan Lewis (CFO at Nomura Bank) and David Lammy (MP for Tottenham).