You go to school. You do your GCSEs. You do your A Levels and you head off to University. This seems to be the default gateway into the Wonderful World of Work for people growing up in the UK. Any deviation from this predetermined pathway is often met with raised eyebrows from peers and parents alike. Unfortunately, with the job market the way it is, the Light at the End of the Tunnel for those who do follow the traditional path of Further Education is often less than satisfactory. “Twenty years of schoolin’ and they put you on the day-shift”, wailed Dylan half a century ago and sadly, it’s still a common tale. Far too many Graduates are finding themselves either unemployed or working jobs with little or nothing to do with their Field of Expertise. Or worse, figuring out at some point during or after their 3 years of study that the course that their naive, or perhaps ill-informed, seventeen-year-old self so hastily selected is, in actuality, not at all what they want to be doing now.
Of course, this is not to suggest that A Levels and Degrees are not valuable pursuits – indeed, for many, they can prove highly worthwhile endeavours. However; the idea that, in order to be successful, one must follow this route is ridiculous. So ridiculous, given the numerous examples to the contrary (Steve Jobs, Sir Alan Sugar and, funnily enough, Albert Einstein – to name but a few standout examples), that it’s unlikely that anybody would ever make that claim outright, or even consciously think it; but I suspect that many school leavers, having had the prospect of University shoved down their throats since their mid-teens by over-zealous Heads of Year under pressure from superiors to improve on last years’ numbers, are often left, through no fault of their own, feeling exactly this way – that is, that any straying from the Further Education route is likely to result in failure and regret.
And what a shame this is when there are so many opportunities available to youngsters in this Age of Information that we find ourselves living in. Young Londoner Nick D’Aloisio is a shining example of what a person, regardless of age, can achieve with a little ambition and a lot of hard work (and, incidentally, no A Levels and no Degree – at the time anyway). In 2011, at age sixteen, D’Aloisio launched an app called Summly; a simple app which condenses full news articles down into shorter, more manageable news snippets, allowing for easy reading on mobile devices. In 2013, at age seventeen, as was widely reported, he sold the app to Yahoo for $30 million US dollars. Without wanting to suggest that success can be measured only in monetary terms, one can’t help but be impressed by this young man’s story, especially given our current economic climate, lest we ever forget about that.
Needless to say, not all kids, or adults for that matter, can be computer programming geniuses with multi-million dollar ideas. However, all young people should be made aware of the options available to them, including, but certainly not limited to, Further Education.
Enter: the team at Find Invest Grow aka FIG. James, James, Mark and Marco started FIG to help young entrepreneurs crystallise their ideas, develop their business plans and find suitable investment. The guys started FIG because they have been in the shoes of the young people that they work with and understand just how hard it is when you are young and want to start out on your own. Through their own businesses they have built up a huge contact base and have had interactions with hundreds of investors and thousands of start-up founders.
They want to give young entrepreneurs access to the appropriate resources and the best network of professionals and experts possible and offer an environment that can turn ideas into reality.
FIG has been selected by ‘Accelerate 250’ (an initiative backed by No.10’s enterprise advisor Lord Young and former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy) as one of the top 250 fastest growing businesses with the most potential in Britain. We agree, we think that what they are doing is great and hope to see many more enterprises similar to theirs springing up in the future.
Our education system is falling short when it comes to providing youngsters with practical skills for business. As things are, would the average 16 year old School Leaver know how to go about setting up his or her own business, for example? What about how to write a professional email? Or talk to potential clients? We’d like to see more young would-be entrepreneurs being given the support, the knowledge and the confidence to pursue their ambitions of starting their own businesses because, in spite of HMRC’s best efforts to hinder and thwart, small businesses can, and do, still succeed every day in this country. The government really needs to pull it’s finger out and make some huge steps towards modernising the existing and failing ‘batch processing’ education system that has been around since Victorian times. In the meantime, we can praise and support the efforts of organisations like FIG and do whatever we can ourselves to get the kids involved.
“The way we see it is that if we give students a good start, there is no limit to what can be achieved.”
Follow their progress www.findinvestgrow.com @FIGtweet