Blame it on the Dems, blame it on the GOP, blame it on the eh-eh-eh-eh-economy, but the buck has stopped here and we can officially say the old formula is broken. Hard Work + Good Education = Employment and Job Security no longer holds true for our generation. With the global economy in a tailspin, it isn’t surprising that more than 13% of 18 to 29-year olds are unemployed, as of July 2011. It’s also not news to anyone that many unemployed or under-employed Gen Y’s have college degrees and mountains of debt.
Instead of sulking and waling in the corner, however, we are a group dead-set on creating opportunities and options for ourselves, be it interning or slaving away to make ends it meet. We are not lazy! And isn’t it time our government stopped looking at us like spoiled children and started giving us the means to create our own jobs?
Why are Gen Y’ers drawn toward entrepreneurship?
Perhaps a slew of corporate scandals and recession downsizing produced a lack of faith in large institutions amongst Millennials, or at least that’s what author and journalist Donna Fenn said in a recent MSNBC post, appropriately called “Start-Up Generation Ready to fix the Economy.” But is this lack of faith enough to create enough entrepreneurs for economic stimulus?
Plenty of unemployed Millennials would be happy to be hired by large corporations. The problem is they can’t find job offers. When unemployment is high, Corporate America has its pick of candidates to fill open positions. Overqualified candidates with years of experience are willing to take entry-level positions just to have a job, leaving most recent grads with little corporate experience and no experience competing with seasoned professionals for jobs.
It might not be too much of a stretch to say the qualities that characterize Gen Y make us excellent entrepreneurs. We’re creative and have high energy for the start-up phase. Risk isn’t a deterrent since Millennials recognize the risk inherent in corporate jobs too. We’re optimistic about their chances for success (perhaps because our Boomer parents constantly told us we could be anything they wanted to be). This optimism, combined with ambitions to create something of lasting value will allow us to succeed as business creators.
But now what? Do we need legislation to help Millennials save the economy?
Some, like Scott Gerber, 27, are advocating for a debt forgiveness program that will empower Millennials to start more businesses. Gerber’s Young Entrepreneur Council “promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment,” and is, according to the same MSNBC post, “proposing a Youth Entrepreneurship Act that would address the barriers [Gerber] says young entrepreneurs face. One element would be a program to forgive student loans and debt for young entrepreneurs, which he says would address a major hindrance to recent graduates who want to set up their own shop.”
But should we really rely on a government with an enormous deficit for funds? Isn’t relying on government aid a risky solution?
Perhaps what held previous generations back from starting their own businesses was a lack of money. But when money is tight, committed entrepreneurs who have great ideas will find ways to use the resources they have (mainly time and people) to show what they can do. Tough economies weed out those who don’t have the stomach for new ventures, allowing those who will likely be successful to flourish.
Instead of thinking about how the government can throw money at Gen Y ventures, we should think about how to train them to be successful in their ventures.
Millennials have proven we have an appetite for entrepreneurial risk in difficult economies. Let us show what we can do with limited resources and investors will give money to those business ideas with real potential.
What do you think? Should the government forgive debt for entrepreneurs? Tell us in the comments!