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SME and start-up sector to tackle youth unemployment

The solution to tackling youth unemployment is to encourage entrepreneurship. At least that’s the mission of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance, convening in Sydney next month.

Co-founder of Freelancer.com, Matt Barrie, told Dynamic Business that young entrepreneurs needed to take advantage of the biggest technology boom in history and lamented the lack of numbers in and emphasis on Australia’s technology industry.

The event, scheduled for July 18, will bring together 400 of the world’s young entrepreneurs to develop a strategy to help reduce global youth unemployment to below 10 per cent by 2030.

According to Ernst & Young’s G20 entrepreneurship barometer, small businesses deliver about 69 per cent of overall employment growth in Australia. Across the OECD, SMEs with fewer than 250 employees account for two thirds of employment.

Mr Barrie said there was now an instant market of 2.4bn people online to whom it was possible to distribute products and new opportunities were emerging for young entrepreneurs that did not exist 20 years ago.

“I really think it’s an unparalleled opportunity and you’re only limited by your imagination and young people are filled with imagination,” he said. “If your idea takes off, it can take off extremely quickly.”

Mr Barrie said that youth unemployment could be addressed by taking further steps to improve the start-up eco-system in Australia. “There’s more we can do. There’s a very vibrant start-up community but there’s terrible financing,” he said.

He said the venture capital industry in Australia was “still born” and that raising investment of over $50,000 was proving very tough for start-ups. He has previously pointed out that in 2012, outside of renewable energy, only $40 million was raised by three venture capitalists for new funds.

Australia is ranked highly against other G20 countries on education, training and entrepreneurship. However, it is only ranked 15 out of 20 for coordinated support which measures the collaboration between the public, private and voluntary sectors in supporting entrepreneurship.

However, Mr Barrie warned that a lot of the advice encouraging young people to take their business ventures overseas was misguided. “A lot of them are working illegally in hotel rooms,” he said. “They aren’t allowed to work. They don’t have a good network. The markets are really borderless. You don’t need to go to Silicon Valley.”

Mr Barrie said he hoped the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance would bring a “whole bunch of really intelligent people from all walks of life” to tackle the issue of youth unemployment.

Ultimately, however, the ability to succeed in business required dedication, hard work and drive. “The days of being average are over,” he said.


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