In early September 2017, the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) kicked off their annual Young Social Pioneers (YSP) program for a group of lucky young entrepreneurs. Each year this social innovation program helps 60 of Australia’s ‘brightest young change-makers’ through training, mentoring and connecting those selected with past alumni and local businesses.
Emphasising the importance of this program, FYA CEO Jan Owen pointed out that Australia is now one of the only advanced economies without any government supported youth entrepreneurship initiatives. “To secure our economic and social prosperity, we need young Australians to be equipped and supported to drive new innovations and business opportunities for themselves and their communities. This is exactly what YSP aims to do,” Owen said.
Since it started eight years ago, YSP’s 200 alumni includes Jorden O’Reilly, co-founder of Hire Up, Elliot Costello, co-founder of YGAP, Genevieve Clay Smith, founder of BusStop films, Bridie Ritchie, co-founder of Sprout and Josh Muir, a young indigenous artist.
Bridie Ritchie (far right) awarded for innovation and enterprise at the FYA Unleashed awards (photo courtesy of FYA)
This year, participants of the initiative include a fashion label turning water bottles into leggings, teaching Auslan via virtual reality, and a program working to provide Indigenous communities with improved access to eye health care services.
Also in early September, Demographer and social commentator Bernard Salt said that Australians are not entrepreneurial and lack initiative, pointing to our lack of competition in major business. "You could make the case that 100 years ago we handed out franchises. Here's four banks, here's a telco, here's two retailers and here's a mining company and we ain't moved on,” Salt said.
Looking towards the future, the FYA predict that by 2030 people in the workplace will need a creative entrepreneurial mind-set due to less management, less organisational co-ordination and less teaching. You can read more about it here (https://www.careermenow.com.au/single-post/2017/08/09/Skills-Young-People-Need-for-the-Future )
The FYA’s support through programs like the Young Social Pioneers initiative is absolutely crucial as it gives youth an opportunity to develop their ideas, get creative and meet others from different backgrounds to inspire one another.
We have seen that young people will have to adjust to new ways of working in the future with developments in technology and a portfolio-style career, so fostering a creative spirit will help them to enter the workplace with the skills to adapt later on in life.
It will also hopefully lead the way for other initiatives to foster entrepreneurship in schools and universities and prepare young Australians for the future. Already schools are running programs such as Girls Invent, Tripod and the FYA's $20 Boss. There needs to be more of it but it is a good start!