Government should facilitate social enterprises benefiting from shortage of graduate jobs
Big Society Trouble-shooter Robert Ashton says that Government should facilitate social enterprises benefiting from shortage of graduate jobs
Youth, energy and drive could prove vital in the success of social enterprises adapting to the current financial climate, according to social entrepreneur Robert Ashton.
These skills, together with the vigour and can-do attitude that comes with youth, are exactly what people need as they wrestle with the impact of Government funding cuts and the need for innovative new ways of delivering services within the Big Society, said Robert Ashton, one of the UKs most successful social entrepreneurs.
Mr Ashton was talking in response to research published last week by the Association of Accounting Technicians that predicts that 55% of the next years graduates will either be unemployed or in low-skilled work six months after graduation and that 40% of last years graduates are under-employed in low skilled jobs.
The Third sector can benefit from the skills of under-employed graduates and they will be adding to the life experience, said Mr Ashton, who is Managing Director of Ethecol Merchant Services CIC and author of best-selling book How to be a Social Entrepreneur.
Students are taught to view the world objectively and to interpret often complex situations into new ideas and concepts, he said. These skills, together with the vigour and can-do attitude that comes with youth, are exactly what people need as they wrestle with the impact of Government funding cuts and the need for innovative new ways of delivering services.
The government already funds the Graduate Talent Pool which links graduates with commercial internships but lets extend the scheme and create a Big Society internship programme. This might pay the minimum wage, perhaps half paid by a local Council or NHS Trust and the balance subsidised with the benefit payments theyd get if unemployed.
Then with the right local support, mentoring and encouragement they could form a fantastic Big Society task force, working at the very grassroots of society to make things happen.
Two generations ago people did National Service and learned how to fight with guns. Many said it was character building. Now its far more appropriate to encourage young people to fight poverty, loneliness and social exclusion with their brains. This will be character building too, created the rounded, responsible and social conscious citizens we need today.
Big Society makes it possible for enterprising individuals to create roles for themselves in all sectors of our community, said Mr Ashton.
On top of the figure for graduates who are under-employed the figures for graduate unemployment have also risen. Graduate unemployment stood at 11% in 2007 and has risen to 20% for those graduating last year.
"If we are asking people to invest 9,000 a year on tuition fees, they should expect a credible return on that investment," said Jane Scott Paul, chief executive of Association of Accounting Technicians.
Universities could support students by including some enterprise mentoring in undergraduate timetables. But the fact remains, young, enterprising people would be an asset to all our Big Society plans. Why not support them with a Big Society Task Force initially funded for six months for each individual by government, said Robert Ashton.
The costs of large numbers of graduates, heavily laden with debt, growing despondent and pessimistic would be far greater.