In an earlier post I argued that the political system is so dysfunctional at the federal level, that the likelihood of ever getting a second stimulus to spur job growth and promote youth employment was next to zero. I don’t believe this is a good thing, I believe the country desperately needs another stimulus, but alas, this is but a dream. In that post I also discussed how I do not think big business can be relied upon to help reduce youth unemployment and underemployment as there is no short-term profit-motive for them.
The conclusion I came to is that the only way to address the massive youth unemployment and underemployment problem is for Millennials to take it upon themselves to help each other out. And to help each other out we need to be starting businesses and hiring each other. To be quite honest, I believe older workers have a tremendous leg-up in the traditional market, many of those that are unemployed have years of work experience. On top of that, from all those years of work many older workers have forged relationships and connections with dozens, or hundreds, of people. They have some sort of network to turn to.
So where does that leave us, the Millennials? Well, as in previous recessions, entrepreneurship tends to increase in downturns as workers can’t find traditional jobs, so they decide to make their own jobs. The great recession was particularly ugly because big business and financial institutions held onto their cash, so the flow of cash for investments ground to a halt. Entrepreneurship simply wasn’t possible because no one was lending for many years. The first stimulus was crucial because it provided a replacement stream of cash for businesses and startups to continue to innovate and hire. While we’re still crawling our way out of the depths of the recession, I think an attitude of hope is emerging amongst Millennials because capital has started moving again.
This brings me to the just-announced Made in NY campaign, a portal for startups and job seekers to connect, while also being a resource-well for businesses. The program is mostly concentrated on tech startups, but there are opportunities for non-STEM individuals as well. The portal features a jobs map of NYC, with over a thousand opportunities at startups. It also features resources for starting your own business, or if you want to learn STEM skills there are even free courses offered throughout the city.
It’s opportunities like these that give me hope for solving the problem of youth unemployment and underemployment. The work will be our own; afterall, starting a business is no picnic, but we all need a bit of guidance and opportunity to realize the dream of starting a business. This specific campaign offers that guidance and opportunity for young entrepreneurs.
My one caveat to this idea that we should all start businesses is that statistically speaking, most businesses fail within the first few years. But I believe that with a platform and environment like Made in NY, that failure doesn’t have to mean complete failure. I think there is a community of young entrepreneurs that is bubbling, and that means, in a practical sense, Millennials will be there for each other when the going gets rough. For example, lets say your business fails within the first few months, I believe that the community of entrepreneurs (see – most likely your former competition) will probably recognize and reward your ambition, execution, and drive to start a business. It seems only natural that failed entrepreneurs could find opportunities at former competition. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, it probably is, but at the very least it is something to put on a resume when applying to traditional jobs. Think about it, I may have limited experience, but if I can list on my resume that I founded my own company, I’ve got to believe that stands out to employers.
Millennials are a restless bunch, we want to have a significant impact on our world, that’s been ingrained within us through positive reinforcement since birth. Our elders can hold this against us and view this entitlement as unearned, or they can guide us in the process of starting our own businesses. The Made in NY initiative is as much a product of Millennials working together to help each other, as it is a way for our elders to guide us into the idea of taking control of what we can. We know of public-private partnerships, well, initiatives like this are Millennial-Boomer partnerships and these are most likely the vehicles through which we will solve our youth unemployment problem.
Agree, disagree? Have you founded a startup? Do you want to? Leave your comments and let me know your stories. We’re in this together!