The International Year of Youth (2011) came at a time of strategic importance. A lack of job opportunities disproportionately affects youth, permitting only a small percentage of these young men and women to follow their professional dreams. This trend prevails even during positive economic situations and is worse during bad economic times (ManpowerGroup, 2012). According to a recent report published by the International Labor Organization (ILO), of the 620 million economically active youth between the ages of 15 and 24, 81 million were out of work by the end of 2009. This was a noticeable increase of over 2% from the 2007 figures of 11.9%, therefore making it the highest rate ever. The ILO predicts that there will be a huge number of unemployed youth adding to this number (ILO, 2010). Youth population figures may more than double by 2050, with 90% of the world’s youth living in developing countries (Population Reference Bureau, PRB). “Young people are the drivers of economic development […]. Forgoing this potential is an economic waste and can undermine social stability”, stressed Mr. Juan Somavia, ILO’s General Director.
There are already significant numbers of young people who would rather start their own business than work for someone else. Entrepreneurship is an important driver of economic prosperity and social well being, creating jobs and economic competitiveness (Thurik & Wennekers, 2004; Monitor Company Group, 2009; ManpowerGroup, 2012).
In order to solve the youth unemployment challenge, we cannot rely on the large corporations to create sufficient amounts of jobs for the next generation. Instead, all stakeholders (policymakers, educators, large and small corporations and other support organizations) need to adapt and prepare the next generation to become job creators instead of job seekers. Youth entrepreneurship must be considered a critical pathway to decent work for young people and has to form a strategic component of national efforts to address youth unemployment. The number of entrepreneurship programs has rapidly increased in the past years; however, little knowledge exists about their inter-connection as well as their effectiveness. Picturing the components that make up an entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as providing measurement indices has been missing to date.
The Entrepreneurs' Ship works with governments and universities to solve the challenge by establishing sustainable long-term strategies and the implementation of solutions.