This week (4 – 10 Nov 2013) is  Youth Work Week, which is an annual celebration of youth work driven by the National Youth Agency (NYA).

2013 sees the 20th year of this profile raising event.


This year the theme of Youth Work Week is Building Skills for Employability.

The campaign aims to highlight the role youth work makes in supporting young people’s development and self-confidence to prepare them for seeking jobs and careers.


Why is this important?


In January to March 2013, 958,000 young people aged 16-24 were recorded as being unemployed in the UK. That’s just under 1 Million young people out of work.


I actually believe that number to be higher, when you think about the changes to the way the figures are counted.

For example, the UK government has increased the age to which all young people in England must continue in education or training, requiring them to continue until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17 from 2013 and until their 18th birthday from 2015.


This means that young people who left year 11 in summer 2013 need to continue in education or training until at least the end of the academic year in which they turn 17.


The government state that this does not necessarily mean they have to stay in school, however, they must continue in some form of structured education or training post-16, which could be full-time study at school, college or with a training provider, full-time work or volunteering combined with part-time education or training or an apprenticeship.


What I believe this has done is take those young people out of the cohort that is counted towards the unemployment figures.


If you look at the research, even those young people that have gone to university and received degrees struggle to find employment.

At the end of 2011, only 30% of students on foundation degree courses found a job within six months of graduation. 18.9% of those graduating in the previous two years were unemployed.

Graduates are also having to settle for low-skilled jobs more frequently than used to be the case. In the last quarter of 2011 more than one in three of those graduating in the last six years and finding work were in low-skilled roles.

What is going on?


When I was growing up, the “safe” life plan that was presented to me was as follows;


  • Go to school
  • Get a good education
  • Learn a trade
  • Get job, (preferably in the council or at Goodyears, because you’ll have a job for life, and a good pension),
  • Save whatever money you can.


Starting a business was seen as being “Risky” and was not encouraged.


But why?


Although I do agree that there is a real risk in starting a business, in this current economic climate, there is just as much risk in working for the local authority, or any other former “Job for life” employer.


Whereas, if you’re self employed, or even better, a busines owner (Yes, there is a difference) you are able to manage, reduce and in some cases avoid risks. (e.g. cutting back on overhead, increasing sales efforts on selling etc.)

But what can a full-time employee do other than keep their head down, work hard and hope that the cuts don’t fall their way when the bosses have made their decisions.


I recently saw n an article featured on the Business insider blog entitled “Actually, Starting Your Own Company Is Less Risky Than Working For Someone Else” written by Serial entrepreneur, investor, and best selling author SCOTT D. GERBER.

You can actually read it here

This statement jumped out at me;

 How much longer are we going to pretend that jobs are going to miraculously appear out of thin air? How much longer are we going to disillusion ourselves into believing that globalisation, recession, automation and the over-abundance of educational institutions haven’t forever changed our world?


I also agree with his statement that we should be ” pushing entrepreneurship as a viable alternative for young people to pursue”.


But what about all the Employability skills programmes?


If you ask me, I believe that many of the Employability skills programmes on offer to young people today are a bit flaky and lead many young people to a dead end.


Writing CV’s and applications, developing communication skills and Interview skills is all good and well, however, if there are no jobs for the young people to go into, then whats the point?


OK, I know these skills can be transferable, but why have to transfer them? Why not just equip young people and prepare them for something that they can go straight into and develop and build over time?


The popular perceptions of entrepreneurs.


According to Wikipedia, entrepreneurship is “the quality of being an entrepreneur, i.e. one who “undertakes an enterprise”. The term puts emphasis on the risk and effort of individuals who own and manage a business, and on the innovations that result from their pursuit of economic success”.


It cites some historic examples of entrepreneur’s, such as 18th Century Steam engine innovators James Watt & Thomas Newcomen.


Today, If you ask young people about entrepreneur’s the names that often come up are the likes of Jobs, Gates, Branson, Trump, Sugar, and more recently Zuckerberg.


Depending on your environment you may also hear names such as Sean “P Diddy” Combs, Jay -Z or Michael Jordan.


However, just like in the music industry, there is an underground world of entrepreneurs who are not in the public spot light like these big names, but are making huge wave just below the radar.


These individuals, most of them under 30 years old, are building successful businesses, which pays them a lot more than any job could have offered them and are probably a lot more secure.


So Here’s My list


I’m sharing this post and this list to encourage and inspire youth workers and young people to reach for their dreams.


We all have to do some type of “work” to generate an income to survive, so why not do something we love and are passionate about, and that can give us the opportunity to help and support others around us.


The encouraging thing about these people is that their stories are not out of the reach of most young people, They just reached!



Pat Flynn – Age: 30


Smart Passive Income Blog


Pat Flynn, from Southern California is a thought leader in the areas of online entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and lifestyle businesses. He is routinely celebrated for his transparent leadership style and authentic principles.


He used to have a 9 to 5 job working as a Job Captain in an architecture firm which he really did enjoyed. However, in 2008 he was laid off, but in his own word’s “I’ve since been able to earn more money (an average of $70,000 per month) and work less (and more flexible) hours”.


Pat is best know for his work on The Smart Passive Income Blog & Podcast where he shares the tools and techniques that work for him as an online marketer.


Transparency is a huge part of Pat’s blog, as it is with everything he does online. His businesses, strategies, and income are all publicly shared for the world to see.


You can read about Pat’s journey from being laid off to earning a respectable income online in his Best selling book “Let Go”.



DanielThomasDaniel Thomas – Age: 23



At 16, and with an initial investment of £50, Daniel decided to make some extra cash by selling protective phone covers on eBay which he imported from China.


As he became more confidence in selling on line, he started listing larger items such as projector screens, LCD TV brackets and even golf karts, all of which were also imported from China.


He began to build a relationship with the Chinese distributors, which stood him in good stead for future business developments.


In 2006, Daniel launched his online hot tub and spa site Danz.co.uk.


He has grown the business to become the market leader in the UK. By 2007, aged 19, he was turning over £60,000. By the time he was 20 the business was turning over £300,000, five times more than two years before. He now predicts an average turnover of more than £1m.




Nick-D-AloisioNick D’Aloisio – Age: 16



At 16 Nick D’Aloisio managed to raise $250,00 in funding for his startup, Summly, while still studying for his GCSE’s.


He created an app that offers a simpler way to browse and search the web by automatically summarising search results, web pages and articles to make content easier to sift to and find what is most relevant to you.


In 2012 Nick announced on his website that his company has been acquired by Yahoo! for a reported sum in the region of £18 million.


At the point of sale Nick was too young to be a director of his own company, so the money went into a trust fund, although he said he did intend to get a new computer, as well as some new trainers.





Samata Angel – Age: 29



Samata is a British-Ghanaian author, speaker and fashion designer currently based in London, England.


She is a womenswear designer who has her own fashion label, Samata with her designs have been worn by the likes of Dawn Angeliqué Richard and Jennifer Lopez and she frequently receives press from Vogue, Company, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Fashion United, Look Magazine (UK), Pride Magazine, ITN, London Lite, Fashion Africa, Red Magazine and The Daily Telegraph.


During 2007, Samata was also made Fashion Editor of The Talent Magazine and has since written articles for The Guardian, Cision, Vogue UK and InStyle.

In July 2010 Samata secured a publishing deal with Bloomsbury for her book, The Fashion Designer’s Resource Book and in February 2011 she was announced as the winner of Suzy Amis Cameron’s Red Carpet Green Dress competition to create a dress made of sustainable materials.


In March 2011 Samata Angel was listed as one of Red Magazine’s “One to Watch: Top 20 women under the age of 30”.




Sean-belnickSean Belnick – Age: 24



Sean founded BizChair.com in 2001 when he was only 14 years old.


With a $500 investment and the advice of his stepfather, (who was a veteran of the office furniture business) Sean began running BizChair.com out of his bedroom.


The company is an internet retailer of office chairs, office furniture, restaurant furniture, church furniture, school furniture, home furniture, and medical furniture and was one of the first online-only office furniture retailers.


In 2004, Sean moved his company into its first commercial warehouse space and within two years he was forced to expanded again. In 2009, Sean, then 22, graduated from Business School and took on a full-time role as BizChair.com’s CEO.


In 2011, BizChair.com reported sales of $72 million.



Jack-SmithJack Smith – Age: 22



Jack Smith started his first ever company at the age of 15 and while he was at Uni he set up ideabox which was an undergraduate business ideas competition.


He is the founder of Vungle, which helps those with apps to show the apps full potential through video advertising rather than just text descriptions and user reviews. Using video to help acquire quality users.


He has now seen Vungle expand to the US with an office in San Fransisco and has raised $8.5 million in venture capital funding from Google Ventures, AOL Ventures, and others.


The company was also featured on a documentary-like video series called “Behind the Launch”.




Josh Buckley – Age: 21



Born and raised in Kent, UK, Josh is a the founder and CEO of MinoMonsters.


After beginning as a freelance programmer at the age of 11, he sold his first company at the age of 15, for a reported six figure sum.


He is best known for being the youngest CEO to raise money from the $2.7 billion venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. and in 2012, he was named in Inc Magazine’s 30 under 30.


At age 16, Josh started travelling and investing in other business start-ups. He funded the creation of DailyBooth, which later raised $7 million from Ignition Partners and Sequoia Capital.


Josh left secondary school in 2010 and chose not to pursure further education, but instead immigrated to San Francisco, California, and in 2011, He raised $1.3 million in seed funding for his startup MinoMonsters.

He was aged 18 at the time.


So there you go!


Next time your having a conversation with a young person, and they seem to be losing hope in their dreams, share one of these stories to inspire them.