Throughout 2020, we saw a surge in interest in entrepreneurship from high schoolers--and a greater push to teach them entrepreneurial skills. Historically, there have been many organizations dedicated to helping teenagers become veritable entrepreneurs. But this latest surge in popularity is coming from all directions.
According to Crimson Education, a leading online mentoring firm that supports students in building their profiles for college admissions, youth entrepreneurship is surging. There are even high schoolers who have written books on the topic of entrepreneurship.
Why did 2020 set the stage for such an increase?
The Covid-19 Pandemic
The obvious motivating factor here is the Covid-19 pandemic. This world-altering event offered a cascade of different effects:
- Job/career uncertainty. Millions of people were out of work for the majority of 2020. Many industries require in-person interactions and were forced to close to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus. Others lost their jobs because of an economic ripple effect, laid off because of decreased demand or economic hardship. These effects have awakened the population to the fragility of their mainstream careers--and the importance of self-sustenance in hard times.
- Increased focus on online businesses. Commerce hasn't come to a crashing halt because of the pandemic. Instead, it's merely transformed; more people are buying products and services online, and spending time online in general. Accordingly, there's been a surge in the popularity and effectiveness of online businesses. Children, parents, and educators are realizing this, and tapping into the limitless potential of online entrepreneurship.
- Online and flexible learning. Another important factor from Covid-19 has been the advent of online (and flexible) learning. With schools closed for the majority of 2020, children had to attend classes virtually. In some cases, students have benefited from more flexible schedules and homework assignments. All this flexibility is empowering students, giving them a greater degree of control in the classes they take and how they choose to study--and many are interested in studying entrepreneurship.
- Additional free time. Finally, even if classes are taking up as much time as they were before, students have additional free time--if only because they no longer have trips to and from school. On top of that, typical social activities basically have come to a halt. With the extra time, many high schoolers have decided to do something that's simultaneously productive, interesting, and exciting--and learning to become an entrepreneur fills the bill.
The College Bubble Bursting
There are also claims that there has been a growing college "bubble" in the United States. The basic idea here is that over the course of many years, higher education costs have risen in response to demand. More people want to go to college, more people are paying for college, and students are paying more than ever to get an education.
After graduating, many college students are surprised to find the market flooded with competitors--since all of their peers were also pressured to go to college. Stuck with crippling debt and few viable career options, these people struggle to succeed.
Even if there isn't a "true" economic bubble, many parents, educators, and other authorities have witnessed these effects firsthand. They know that college is important and a good investment, but it's no guarantee of success. Accordingly, they're spending more time teaching children other skills and types of knowledge--including entrepreneurship.
Why Young Entrepreneurship Experience Is Important
Learning the fundamentals of starting a business, or starting a business outright, while young can be massively beneficial, and for several reasons:
- Widespread applicability. For starters, "entrepreneurial skills" don't have to be used for entrepreneurship. Learning to research a business plan, manage your time, and lead others can help you in a wide variety of careers, classes, and life experiences. Better-trained entrepreneurs tend to be better performers in nearly all areas of life.
- Independence. Teaching entrepreneurial skills also allows high schoolers to become more independent. Rather than relying on a specific career path or a specific employer, people with entrepreneurial mindsets and abilities can always fall back on their abilities as self-starters.
- Early interest in starting new businesses. Entrepreneurial high school students get an early interest in starting businesses of their own. As we know, small businesses are the biggest source of new jobs and one of the most important factors for economic growth in the United States; accordingly, everyone stands to benefit from their education in this area.
Hopefully, the trend of entrepreneurship education and experience among high schoolers will continue well into 2021 and beyond. Better trained and better skilled youngsters will grow into more ambitious and innovative adults--and we all stand to benefit from that surge.