Encouraging ambitious young NBers to think entrepreneurship

My column this morning in the TJ discussed an idea that I have been kicking around in recent months.  We know that a lot of really bright young New Brunswickers leave the province because they “can’t find a good job here”.  Maybe we should be doing more to encourage them to think about entrepreneurship – to create their own job – their own career path here in the province.

An astute colleague sent me an email reminding me that I have complained in the past about both efforts to try and retain young people (cajole, guilt, etc.) and to try and get unemployed people to start their own business.

It is true that I am skeptical of government efforts to encourage unemployment people to start their own businesses.   It takes a certain type of person to want to take on the risk of owning their own business – and particularly in sectors of the economy where success is reliant on developing external markets (think about IT startups as a good example).

But I have met enough of these high potential New Brunswickers – the keeners who want to change the world – and I have a hunch that many of them would make good entrepreneurs but they never really have given it any real thought.  They went to the right schools, got into the right networks, got the best grades and now feel they should naturally be recruited into highly rewarding jobs in the private, NGO or government sectors.  And, unfortunately, there are not a lot of those jobs laying around available in New Brunswick.

So, they leave.

I think some of them should consider entrepreneurship. Business minded young people could partner up with a tech person on an IT startup.  Socially minded folks could enrol in the Pond-Deshpande social enterprise incubator and start social enterprises.  Start with the Guia Project and take it national, as one example.

The point is really ambitious people should have multiple pathways to rewarding careers and that doesn’t necessarily start with an internship at IBM or Google.    Cobble together an exciting IT startup and you’ll get the interest of the tech sector the old fashioned way.

It’s worthy of discussion.  I know several crackerjack young people that have cobbled together interesting jobs from multiple firms and organizations – not one offering a full time job – and are building strong networks and gaining a good reputation.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how bright or ambitious you are.  You have to get out there and add real value – show your skills can translate into value – in the profit-seeking or NGO sectors.

There are many ways to get that done.

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One Response to Encouraging ambitious young NBers to think entrepreneurship

  1. mikel says:

    We’ll try not to take it personally that a lot of your commentors have been saying this for YEARS. Particularly in the IT sector, virtually nobody has any respect for people who show ZERO initiative. The BEST way to get ahead in IT is to start your own business. And again, as we’ve been saying for years, what this involves is teaching at a basic level so that students are ready for innovation right out of high school. Essentially we are still training kids through to the age of 18 to work in the natural resource sector.

    Government does not need to ‘encourage’ people. Take a look at the workforce. Do you think people WANT to work in no security jobs? Or basically move to Alberta to help wreck the earth? Meanwhile, I heard on the CBC last week about a developer of a run down downtown building who is turning it into office space with what they called “the necessities of the modern IT workplace”, which consisted of pool tables, racquetball courts, and a garden on the roof- and yes, this was the WORKPLACE.

    Not only that, it is far more exciting than virtually any industry out there, because it is applicable to any industry out there, but again, virtually no kids come out of high school with the faintest idea of how to innovate. Mainly how canadians do self employment is when either their ‘other work’ becomes unbearable, or it closes down. I know this very well because virtually every year that a manufacturing facility closes down, you can count the rapid increase in the number of landscaping trucks the following summer and the number of ‘winemaking stores’ that set up in small strip malls.

    Government certainly doesn’t need to either encourage or discourage people to start their own business, that decision is done without them. What it needs to do is the same thing it does for large corporations-create the infrastructure where it can happen. The setup is the same, only the policies are different. They already do this to a small extent, I know lots of seamstresses who are given free government training on how to manage their books. What seems odd is that people are coming out of high school with NO idea how to manage finances, plan a future, care for their health, and yet lots of knowledge of history and literature.

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