A Generation with Solutions

July 6, 2011

When it comes to tackling the issue of youth unemployment, it's not
enough just to say we want help. We also need to offer solutions. Enter the Young Entrepreneurs Agenda from Young Invincibles.

As
a young adult pounding the pavement, resume in hand, it can seem like your
voice and concerns are drowned out amidst the debates going on in
Washington.  So it was refreshing news
when the advocacy group Young Invincibles and about a dozen other youth leaders
from around the country were invited to meet with President Obama and senior
White House staff last month to talk about the concerns of our generation and
give feedback on hundreds of youth roundtables that the participants had hosted
around the country.

For
me personally, being able to bring the issues and struggles that I’ve heard
from our members, youth roundtables and partners to the very top, and to feel
like I was being heard, was a thrilling experience. 

At
the meeting, the participants and President Obama discussed a range of issues,
from the economy to Pell Grants to LGBT rights. 
Young Invincibles regularly hosts young-adult focus groups across the
country to hear from all different types of young people (college students,
non-college students, young professionals, union workers, unemployed youth,
young veterans, African-American youth, Latino youth, etc.) and we’ve seen that
some youth concerns are nearly universal. 
With more than 17% of Americans
ages 16 to 24 out of work, youth unemployment and the decline of the American
middle class has been a major focus.  Whether
young adults are trying to earn money for the summer, put themselves through
school, or looking to start their career, they're finding that their job search
is much more difficult than their parents. And the number of young people
starting businesses has declined over the past
five years, as well, furthering the employment slump.

Entrepreneurs have the potential to create thousands of new jobs and propel our economy forward during this difficult period.

We
need President Obama and this Administration to tackle the issue of youth
unemployment, but it’s not enough just to say we want help.  We also need to offer solutions. Last month,
with the help of young adults across the country, Young Invincibles released a young
entrepreneurs agenda
with specific proposals on how to help young
would-be business owners – anyone from the next tech giant to the neighborhood
pizza joint proprietor – succeed and overcome the hurdles they face.

Our
generation has a wealth of insight and talent. 
But there are substantial monetary and educational barriers to young
entrepreneurs that our proposal seeks to address.  Financing a startup is especially daunting
for a young adult or recent graduate. That's why Young Invincibles has proposed
a graduated student loan forgiveness program for entrepreneurs who want to
start a business but are hampered by loan payments. Just imagine: a federal
program that helps you with your student debt and start a business at the same
time?  Our analysis suggests this policy
could create tens of thousands of new jobs for young people and their eventual
employees.  It is also particularly
difficult for a young person without a credit history or with credit card debt
to get even a small loan for their enterprise. By increasing young peoples'
access to government-backed microloan programs, we can help our generation of
entrepreneurs find the seed money to make their dreams a reality. 

This
proposal also has opportunities for the public and private sectors to foster
the next generation of small businesses through education and more targeted
youth outreach. Initiatives to increase government procurement from small
businesses owned by young adults, similar to existing provisions for
procurement from female and veteran-owned small businesses, would be one way
for the public sector to encourage the growth of new ventures. In the private
sector, entrepreneurial mentoring programs could be a helpful channel for young
business owners in need of advice.

Entrepreneurs
have the potential to create thousands of new jobs and propel our economy
forward during this difficult period. We are committed to collaborating with young
adults across the country to bring policymakers new ideas to improve the
economy for our generation.

We know that this proposal is not enough to solve our opportunity
crisis.  In fact, it will be just the
start, as we continue to work with our generation to identify policies that can
expand access to higher education, directly create youth employment or better
connect young people to jobs in their community.   So stay tuned and read more about our young
entrepreneurs agenda here.

Aaron Smith is co-founder and Executive Director of Young Invincibles, a national organization committed to mobilizing and expanding opportunities for all young Americans between 18 and 34 years of age.

Aaron Smith
2

Comments

Perfect for those kids who study hard, they need this to build their better future.

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Young professionals are actually innovative when it comes to entrepreneurial citations, they are mostly the ones who earn credits in running a business at their younger age. It is always good that we give the opportunity to grow as when it comes to business they have more fresh and responsive ideas. Starting a business, I guess is the best solution for them to grow more responsible, innovative and wise.

Cheers
Erich
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