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Sir Richard Branson: “Government must do more to help young entrepreneurs”

Statement comes as Virgin Media Pioneers proposes action plan

“Large enterprises and government can and must do more to help…young entrepreneurs.”

That was the message from Sir Richard Branson this week as his campaign to reveal barriers to entry for young entrepreneurs reached its conclusion.

Virgin Media Pioneers – an online community for aspiring entrepreneurs – launched the Control Shift campaign at the MADE festival in September.

It has since polled over 1,600 aspiring Pioneers, to take the pulse of attitudes to entrepreneurship among Britain’s youth, as well as launching an eight-week mentoring programme.

Control Shift report

The results of the campaign were compiled into a report entitled Control Shift: The Rise of Young Entrepreneurs, which was released at an event at The Hub Westminster on Tuesday.

Among the report’s recommendations was the promotion of enterprise in schools, by building connections with local businesses, and the government remodelling the Students Loans System into a Youth Investment Trust, under which young people could take out start-up loans on the same terms as student loans.

Supporting young entrepreneurs

Speaking at the event, to a crowd which included Startups’ reporter and several young Pioneers, former Dragons’ Den panellist Doug Richard highlighted the responsibility of big businesses to provide paid internships to the next generation: “They profit from entrepreneurship because entrepreneurship and young companies in particular are what make the economy grow.

“Therefore, even though they don’t see it, it’s in their educated self-interest to give back and an easy way to give back is to create internships that create people who have a certain modicum of training and experience in the real world, on the coal face, doing real stuff.

“Admittedly on a nominal wage, but a wage, and therefore they increase the likelihood that these people will enter into the business community – and frequently as entrepreneurs.”

Youth unemployment

The report comes as it was revealed that the UK’s unemployment rate has hit a 15-year high, with the number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds surpassing one million.

Rajeeb Dey, CEO of enternships.com, said of the figures: “With youth unemployment exceeding the million threshold it’s now important we send a message to young people that they can make a job rather than take a job and that entrepreneurship is a viable and rewarding career path in its own right.

“Right now young people need work experience to secure jobs and face a “catch 22″ situation in obtaining these placements. By looking beyond the more traditional corporate employers and engaging with start-ups and small businesses, we can create new opportunities and inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs.”

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