There are over 81 million young people unemployed worldwide. Not to mention tens — if not hundreds — of millions more that are underemployed. In the U.S., youth unemployment is just shy of 20 percent, nearly 40 percent of Gen Y has been either unemployed or underemployed at some point since December 2007 and college graduates are so poor that they are being forced to move back in with their parents and default on student loans in record numbers.
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These facts aren’t just depressing — they’re downright scary.
Yet still, the older generations can’t seem to let go of the antiquated mantra of “work hard, get good grades, and go to school to get a job.”
In a world where we have innumerable “career experts” still advising us on how to “improve” our job search efforts and parents still pressuring us to validate our diplomas by sending out countless resumes, I must ask: WHAT ROCK ARE THESE PEOPLE LIVING UNDER!
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 globalization, recession, automation and the over-abundance of educational institutions haven’t forever changed our world?
Even though it is beyond apparent that millennials are no longer beneficiaries of the hand-out, resume-driven society of old, people are still hesitant, or outright against, pushing entrepreneurship as a viable alternative for young people to pursue.
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Why? How could this be? Well, mainly it’s because most people say starting a business is too “risky.”
Allow me to retort.
While I won’t argue that there isn’t inherent risk in any start-up or venture (because there certainly is), I will say without reservation that, in this economy, there is just as much — if not more — risk in simply sending out countless resumes or under-employing oneself just to make ends meet. Whereas an entrepreneur’s risk can be mitigated, and in many instances controlled (e.g. scaling back on overhead, concentrating more efforts on selling, etc.), what exactly can a full-time job-seeker do other than wait and ante up again (and again and again and… you guessed it… again)? Are they not taking a risk with their financial futures every time they decide to spend more time, energy and resources on trying to fight their way into a system where they have absolutely no control or ownership?
Contrary to the social norm, sure. Wrong, I think not.
Think about it. If you were in a casino with your friend and he was losing his shirt at the craps table, wouldn’t you try to get him to walk away and make a better decision with what he had left? Why isn’t that same mindset applied to failed job searches? Why aren’t we telling more people to walk away and take a different approach? I have yet to figure out what compels people to still tout a broken system as the only practical solution. Nor do I understand how is it possible that the passive approach (e.g. sending resumes and hoping for the best) is widely considered to be less risky than the pro-active one (e.g. starting a business for oneself)? Are people simply too afraid to let go of the ‘mantra’ and try something new?
This outdated, fear-ridden logic holds no water with me. Times have changed, and so must the advice, education and tough love we offer young people so that they can be fully equipped to meet the new challenges, demands and harsh realities of the new economy — and the new world.
It’s time we get our heads out of the sand and realize that young people need a new direction.
Whether we like it or not, the new economy has made it abundantly clear that in today’s world, Gen Yers will need to create a job to keep a job. Millennials must re-train themselves to become self-sufficiency experts capable of generating their own incomes. To my detractors who will undoubtedly say “not everyone is capable of being an entrepreneur” or “small businesses fail at alarming rates and aren’t advisable out of the gate”, I say to you: “What’s your solution?” Keep flooding the ever-diminishing job market with resumes? Tell our well-educated young people to under-employ themselves to the point of poverty? Let Gen Yers waste their most valuable assets — mainly their time and energy — on “real” jobs that barely make ends meet?
I find these scenarios to be much riskier propositions than starting a business — especially the sort of businesses that I preach about.
The key to Gen Y’s success is to start building the next generation of practical, nuts-and-bolts, low overhead, income-generating businesses. Not Facebook, but pool cleaning companies. Not Google, but tutoring services. These sorts of ventures will allow us to minimize risk, while simultaneously affording us the opportunity to take control of our financial futures.
This is precisely why I wrote Never Get a “Real” Job and formed the Young Entrepreneur Council — to teach Gen Y exactly how to build businesses from the ground up the right way, as demonstrated by their successful peers, so that they can exponentially increase their likelihood of success. The question now is this: Does my generation have what it takes to tune out the noise and determine what real risk is for itself?
Scott Gerber is a serial entrepreneur, internationally syndicated columnist and TV host, and the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council. He is also an active angel investor and author of the book Never Get a "Real" Job. He has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, TIME, CNN, Reuters, CBS Evening News, MSNBC, US News & World Report, Fox News, Inc. and Entrepreneur.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.) is a nonprofit organization that provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. The Y.E.C promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.