On Thursday, October 3, NFTE’s top 38 young entrepreneurs competed in at the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (#NYEC) for a chance at $25,000 in cash and prizes. The finalists, who are all business plan competition winners from their respective regions, were required to develop and present original business plans as part of their entrepreneurial studies at school, based on NFTE's experiential curriculum.
Just this week the venerable publication The Economist shined a spotlight on the reality of the youth unemployment crisis. There are now estimated to be 290 million young people – 25% of all youth worldwide – who are not employed, pursing education or in a vocational training program. NFTE and entrepreneurship education are more vital than ever.
I had a wonderful experience today helping chart the course for bringing financial literacy to all young Americans. I joined the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability in presenting our findings to President Obama.
“Education = Opportunity. The opportunity to work. The opportunity to escape poverty. The opportunity to live healthily. The opportunity to live confidently. The opportunity to hope. I believe you deserve an education. Whoever you are. It's your right.”
I feel a strong sense of optimism as I continue to participate in meetings and events, and talk with people spontaneously in and out of the Congress Centre. A growing group of business and government leaders, social entrepreneurs and journalists are coming to the conclusion that we must act NOW and together to find solutions that offer hope to the growing global army of unemployed youth. Driven by economic interests and/or moral callings, I sense that urgency is suddenly entering the discussion. Add 75 million current unemployed youth with the 200+ million that today make less than $2.00 per day and suddenly, we are facing a cold reality. 35% of young people under 27 are turning more and more towards hopelessness.
“It is entrepreneurs who represent the best hope of creating sustained economic growth around the world. Students who can develop the entrepreneurial mindset early on are going to have a distinct advantage, whether economic conditions are weak or strong.”– MARIA PINELLI, GLOBAL VICE CHAIR,STRATEGIC GROWTH MARKETS, ERNST & YOUNG GLOBAL LTD. & CHAIRMAN, NFTE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Here at the World Economic Forum, it is clear that big issues like how to jumpstart the economy, the need to foster small business development as an engine of job creation, and preparing today’s youth to be tomorrow’s skilled workforce but smarter, better, entrepreneurial are on the minds of all CEOs and corporate leaders.