Self-employment and online enterprise — young people try to by-pass labour market discrimination

BRAP has a really interesting piece in the latest issue of the online journal Open Citizenship.

Based on recent research and the organisation’s experience in delivering Lifeline, a youth enterprise programme, BRAP’s chief exec Joy Warmington offers a thought-provoking perspective on young people’s attitudes to and understanding of the world of work — and why some are turning to self-employment and micro-business, especially online business, as a means of creating their own opportunities.

Anyone involved with or interested in youth employment issues will find it worth a read.  Read it here.

Just as France has its banlieues and Italy its quartieri periferici, the UK has stigmatised neighbourhoods. Many young people from these areas believe employers use their addresses as an indicator of ethnicity, class, and educational attainment, rejecting their job applications out of hand.

Employment and the world of work remain a mystery to many of these young people. Barely 40% said they knew what qualities employers were interested in. Many are angry that schools did so little to help impart practical, useful life skills. Many feel that schooling has done little but prevent them from achieving their full potential.

What really surprised us was young people’s interest in enterprise and self-employment, with many seeing starting a business as a route to greater personal autonomy – as well as a means of side-stepping the negative stereotypes and discrimination they believe prevent them from succeeding in the labour market. In effect they were saying, ‘if no one else wants us, then we’ll have to create our own opportunities’. — Joy Warmington, brap

Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website

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