When you are faced with a barrage of unending negativity, how do you react? The easy thing to do is to accept the “wisdom” of the crowd and go along with the flow – in other words, to be a sheep. This reaction, much aside from stripping you of your last vestments of independence, is also a tacit admission of defeat. By taking the easy option you are accepting a version of history, which you played no part in authoring, as the uncontested blueprint for how things are. When we apply this twisted logic to the youth unemployment crisis and how it affects young people, a wildly distorted picture of youth emerges. Young people are depicted as victims, happily passive, as if wrapped up in a comforting blanket of inertia, while being soothed by their overly protective mother. This portrayal, hopelessly skewed though it is, is regurgitated endlessly by the majority of the media – to the extent that you would imagine that their proclamations were the product of intense scientific scrutiny as opposed to lazy repetition.
Let’s set the record straight. Youth are not mere bystanders in the ever evolving tale of the youth unemployment crisis, idly hoping to hitch a lift to some imagined jobs Nirvana. Rather, they are at the very heart of job creation efforts that encapsulate the type of unbridled energy, passion and imagination that only young people can offer. An example of one of these innovative youth-led interventions is Enterprise YOU! Enterprise YOU! is a two day training programme that provides young people with the skills and attitudes necessary to become entrepreneurs. The programme enshrines in its participants the type of proactive positive mentality that is essential to getting ahead in a tough jobs market – encouraging them to create, rather than fill, jobs.
Enterprise You! is the end product of a collaborative process that spanned international borders, with its cutting edge methodology reflecting the best practices of 7 of Europe’s leading training providers. Co-ordinating the intricate effort was Janne Geurts. While Janne is originally from the Netherlands, she currently works for Peace Child International (PCI) a youth-empowerment NGO based in Hertfordshire. Her route to PCI was not a smooth effortless transition; rather it was pockmarked by the vicissitudes that characterise the job market experiences of so many of today’s youth.
Before she came to the UK, Janne held down a well-paid job in her native Holland. At this point I should mention that she does hold 2 master’s degrees so the “well paid” part was just recognition of hard work rather than her having inherited a cushy number – so Daily Mail readers can relax! At this venture, her boyfriend received a job offer in Cambridge and, keen to embark on a new adventure, Janne decided to join him on the sunless side of the English Channel. As with all adventures, Janne set out with an idealised impression of how it would all pan out – certainly getting a job, given her considerable academic and professional achievements, did not strike her as an insurmountable challenge.
That illusion was duly shattered; the days passed, the job applications were posted, but the expected responses never came. Sound familiar? With time, the bright lights of expectation progressively dimmed to the lower watt bulbs of hope – but the crucial thing is that Janne never surrendered to the pitch darkness of hopelessness. She kept plugging away, churning out CVs and Letters of Application on an industrial scale. Eventually, her dogged perseverance led her to PCI and the rest as they say is history.
During her time at PCI, Janne has established an international network of job creation providers, convened the International Youth Job Creation Summit that was recently held at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in London AND developed Enterprise YOU! This impressive body of work is testament not only to her intelligence, creativity and boundless energy, but also to her fearless determination to take on the odds and support youth in finding their own solutions to the youth unemployment crisis. Hers truly is an example that makes a mockery of the fraudulent image of a feckless spoon-fed generation.
Never one to rest on her laurels, Janne is now keen to expand Enterprise YOU! No time could be more apposite; a growing consensus is building that the integration of entrepreneurial trainings into mainstream education would mark a progressive forward step in combating youth unemployment. The time for reform is now; too much time has already been lost through bureaucratic wrangling and political one-upmanship for us to spare one second more listening to hollow promises. Enterprise YOU! delivers on what it promises. By engaging youth in an accessible, fun and constructive manner, Enterprise YOU! gives young people the best chance possible to become the authors of their own futures. When all is said and done, this is the best way of finally putting to bed the image of youth as victims and replacing it with something altogether more positive and accurate – Youth as change-makers.
To support Janne in expanding Enterprise YOU! please help her secure funding by voting at the following link http://www.inspiringenterprise.rbs.com/inspiring-youth/grant-funding/public-voting/enterprise-you?
To find out more about Enterprise YOU! Via this link: http://peacechild.org/enterpriseyou/