Are Children the Future of Innovation?
The youth of today hold the key to unravelling many of life’s problems through creating their own businesses, finding innovative solutions to long-problematic challenges and tackling future dilemmas.
We have all heard that “children are the future!” However, the level of competition they face from a young age to early adulthood has made futures more uncertain, and it is increasingly difficult for young adults to get their foot in the door and achieve their dream job. With already high standards raising across many industries, a degree alone is simply not enough to guarantee a job.
Where are the dream jobs?
With the current state of global economy struggling as it is, young adults are no longer able to find those coveted ‘dream jobs’ – the truth is that there’s simply not enough employment to meet the demand of young professionals that are currently graduating or looking to put their foot in the door. There was a time when all a graduate had to do to be accepted into an entry level job was to turn up to an interview with shiny shoes, a second-hand tie and a firm handshake is a thing of the past.
It’s the time of year where most students are finishing their degrees and asking themselves that all important question: “What am I going to do with the rest of my life once I finish university”. In this economy, the root for many graduates is unclear and it is almost impossible for a new graduate or young professional to step into their dream job without at least two years’ experience in a relative industry.
I myself am a strong believer in empowering the young, and can see the clear benefits of encouraging young entrepreneurs. Over the last few years, ‘inexperienced’ innovators such as David and Catherine Cook (founders of MyYearBook.com), David Karp (founder of Tumblr), and of course Mark Zuckerberg have made their name in the business world. All of these young entrepreneurs have created new technical innovations or new business models despite being relatively ‘green’, to considerable acclaim.
Is it that important?
Why is it important to teach kids from a young age? Nurturing the early spirit of entrepreneurialism is important, an essential skill that has become more important to organisations. It allows children to develop the ability to solve problems, exercise their creativity, find new opportunities and develop their self-confidence. All of these skills can not only be applied to starting a business, but can also be neatly transferred into other organisations, where they can carry out the role of ‘Intrapreneur‘.
Over the years the opportunities for graduates and young adults to become intrapreneur’s within an organisation have grown dramatically. As employers are looking for people that can use their ingenuity within an organisation to drive innovation and give them a competitive edge.
Developing young entrepreneurs from unexpected sources
Kevin Doe pays homage to the term “diamond in the rough”. Kevin has been named as one of the most creative and innovative people on the planet at the age of 12 years old. The Sierra Leone prodigy has a gift for transforming anything he finds into an invention that can become a social enterprise. He has been able to teach himself how to create things with very little resources, creating ground-breaking ideas such as building batteries out of re-engineered materials found in a scrap yard to solve his villages blackout problems. Kelvin’s entrepreneurial and innovative skills have been nurtured by working with some of the greatest minds in the world such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T). They helped him to develop and find new opportunities, creating projects to improve his local community and the rest of Africa – such as Sierra WIFI - further empowering Kelvin to spearhead a $100,000 project to install solar panels for their 400 different sites.
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It is not uncommon to hear of famous entrepreneurs giving to charity, but Twitter and Square co-founder Jack Dorsey has gone a step further by working with an organisation called BUILD. BUILD is a four-year entrepreneurial program that targets children between the ages of 15 to 18 that are otherwise likely to drop out of education. The program helps teenagers to develop their skills by developing an idea into a businesses, running it sustainably. Over 7,200 students drop out of education every year in America: BUILD’s aim is to teach these teenagers entrepreneurial skills with a view to them being more successful in their future careers. Promisingly, charity organisations and programmes that are designed to encourage innovation and entrepreneurial activities within children and young adults are increasingly springing up.
There are many similar programmes and young entrepreneur academies that are designed to stir motivation and catalyse young people, and this fostering of innovation among the young has piqued the interest of governments across the world.
Government incentives to boost innovation within the young
The ability to encourage the next generation of children to innovate and become entrepreneurial has been the catalyst for many countries and regions across the world. Developing nations such as the BRIC nations have been able to utilise the spirit of innovation within their next generation to foster sustainable economy growth.
The Indonesian Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA) has helped the youth of Indonesia to gain the necessary skills to work in any business environment, educate them about finance, and build confidence among children. The purpose of the association is to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation as nation’s youth were not inspired to start a career within business. The YEA has resulted in the level of home grown entrepreneurs build their network and expand their business, as well as working with the Indonesian government to create regulations and policies that foster children to innovate and become more entrepreneurial.
A new age
Entrepreneurs are becoming the new rockstars, astronauts and sports stars in children’s eyes, as children see entrepreneurs like Michael Zackerberg and Will.i.am (who is also seen as an entrepreneur) as the ‘in thing’ to be when they are older.
Helping the young to bring out their inner entrepreneur, as well as their creative and innovative side, has sparked a new generation that can spot new opportunities and solve problems in the future – hopefully those new trail blazers are the ones creating jobs in the future rather than searching for one. Whatever the case, the debate centered around encouraging innovation in the young has already started to make huge waves in changing the way children envision their future.
Image Courtesy of potowizard / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
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