Positive progress for youth employment – but more work to be done

More work needs to be done to promote social entrepreneurship as an attractive career option for young people.

This was one of the conclusions of a recent Social Futures event held by UnLtd in partnership with the Social Economy Alliance.

The event, held at Google Campus in London, gave young social entrepreneurs and their supporters a chance to explore the future of youth employment and how social entrepreneurship can create more jobs and opportunities for young people. It was part of UnLtd’s Living It campaign celebrating and showcasing young social entrepreneurs.

Discussions focused on policy ideas and recommendations from the Social Economy Alliance’s consultation paper on ‘Work’. There were break-out sessions to test and innovate on existing ideas, and space for participants to suggest additional ideas.

The event also provided an opportunity for the young people to inform and shape policy recommendations for the Social Economy Alliance ahead of the 2015 General Election. The Alliance believes that social entrepreneurship should feature as a significant part of the solution for the future of youth employment.

The key themes explored at the event were: Enterprise and work readiness, Learning by Doing, Welfare to Work and Starting Well. There was also a ‘wild-card’ group on the open challenge question of how social entrepreneurship and the social economy can create more jobs and opportunities for young people.

The session focusing on ‘Welfare to work’ explored how job centres could be doing more to support social entrepreneurs. The group felt that the Government’s New Enterprises Allowance scheme was a very positive way to enable the transition from unemployment to self-employment. But they also felt that more needed to be done as there is generally a low visibility of entrepreneurship as a career option in Job Centres.

The New Enterprise Allowance Scheme recently boasted supporting 40,000 new businesses in the past year, with several social mission businesses being profiled in the announcement.

In the ‘Learning by Doing’ session participants explored the idea for developing a dedicated social entrepreneurship apprenticeships pathway so young people can be accredited for starting their own social ventures.

The group agreed that an ‘earn while you learn’ vocational apprenticeship route for social entrepreneurship was a good idea. However, they felt that apprenticeship need ‘re-branding’ and better promotion in schools and colleges to pursue this positive career option, especially as there is a heavy bias for encouraging young people to pursue the ‘traditional’ route of going on to university.

The event was well attended by a mixture of young social entrepreneurs, support organisations and corporate representatives interested in the agenda. All the feedback, policy asks and recommendations from participants are being submitted directly to the Social Economy Alliance for consideration and possible inclusion in the 2015 Social Economy Manifesto.

To read the full event review highlights visit: Social Futures Review – Future of Youth Employment – April 2014

Have your say on the ideas from the Social Economy Alliance consultation papers: http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/social-economy-alliance/take-action/consultation

For more information about UnLtd’s Living It campaign celebrating and showcasing young social entrepreneurs visit: http://living-it.org/

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