OECD-EU work on the Missing Entrepreneurs shows that too many young people are held back from reaching their potential in entrepreneurship.
Surveys show that about 40% of young people in the EU are interested in working for themselves, but only 7% are self-employed (Figure). The gap between interest and action can be explained, at least partly, by the disproportionate barriers that youth face in business creation – including in the areas of access to finance, entrepreneurship skills, networks for entrepreneurship and institutional incentives.
Governments have been working to lay the foundations for young entrepreneurs to succeed through the implementation of good policies. This includes improving the business environment, as well as tailored policies and schemes in the areas of entrepreneurship training and education, coaching and mentoring, business incubators and start-up financing.
But more is needed because policies and programmes have not yet reached their full potential. Moreover, the vulnerability of young people has once again been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which interrupted education and transitions from school into the labour market, as well as the economic challenges related to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. A long unemployment spell early during someone’s career can be devastating as the scarring and income effects could last a lifetime.
Other actors can also do more to pitch in. Schools, universities, vocational training centres, businesses, social enterprises and young people themselves all have a role in opening more doors for the next generation of entrepreneurs.
There is where OECD-EU YEPA can play a unique role. By bringing together policymakers, young entrepreneurs, youth entrepreneurship organisations, social entrepreneurship networks, programme managers and researchers, YEPA will facilitate exchanges across countries and stakeholder groups on lessons learner, pitfalls to avoid, and emerging approaches to supporting young entrepreneurs.