Lukas Mikelonis editorial in the Telegraph ‘Start-up culture is corrupting our youth and killing real entrepreneurship’ missed out a significant point.
I agree, an increasing number of young people are buying into the glamour of owning a start- up, before they have any solid experience under their belts, it’s a shocking reality.
However, when we look a little closer should we be shocked?
We live in a quick fix, party hard, disposable era where businesses take full advantage and encourage this mind-set with aspirational products and irresistible marketing slants. Even universities have jumped onto the business bandwagon, hard selling the ‘benefits’ of the established social ‘lifestyle’ offered to all students. In reality, it’s all driven by us and the need to make money fast!
So we can’t complain or blame the increasing numbers of students each year that hit the business job market totally unprepared. Faced with the stark realities of a highly competitive and reduced market, where only a lucky few go straight into employment, they climb onto the internship roundabout. With the free labour of interns many businesses run whole departments unchecked. It’s been accepted by society and sold by business as a great opportunity for students to gain skills and experience, which many believe for a while. In certain sectors that may be correct, but the vast majority find a very different reality with unstructured, minimal training, often carried out by the intern who has come to the end of their own attachment.
Whilst this continues to be limply regulated by the government and serves to keep unemployment figures pleasingly low, our youth continue to get the raw end of the deal, but at what cost to the future growth of our workforce?
With fewer entry positions for graduates within their chosen field and with most companies recruiting for candidates with a minimum of 2 years business experienced, the gap of skill demand and supply gets wider. How can the intern gain real experience if they are not being properly trained, especially when each placement only lasts between one and three months? More than ever policy-makers, employers, skills providers, employment services and individual learners need clearer information and direction in order to build stronger bridges between the worlds of work, education and training. Only then will we move away from the harmful culture we have perpetrated.
So it’s no wonder students are attracted by the start–up culture we see blossoming around us. They have huge potential, but very little guidance from those who should be their mentors. With fresh ideas and a burning desire to fulfil their dreams, a start–up for many looks like a very attractive option.
We now have a generation of young people who have unwittingly been exploited by big business within a culture that we have devised: From the moment they applied for a university place to job entry, with only poorly regulated business internships to look forward to.