Today’s youth are a bit of a different breed – and they’re leaving the turn of the century in the dust as they surge toward a future they can be a real part of, not just dream about. They aren’t planted in front of the TV as much as they are caught up in dismantling electronics to see how they work, scrolling through their smart phones with one hand and using a calculator with the other.
These are the tech kids. As they make their way through college (jumping into apprenticeships offered by today’s market leaders with ease), they are also proudly raising their voices in unison with those who would change the world. The world is their oyster, and they know it.
Education is ‘A-Changing’
We’ve certainly come a long way from introducing the ‘real world’ to students by having working parents come into their child’s class and speak about their careers. Since the century rolled over, a plethora of programmes has appeared on the scene – with the purpose of encouraging expertise in technical fields and innovation; such as STEM education, and internships. Keeping up with technological advances has become vital, not just to satiate our curiosity, but to guarantee our place in a competitive marketplace.
Who knew that it would be the purveyors of Facebook and Google who revolutionised the institutions of higher learning? A stodgy group, traditional educators have always assumed it was they (not the world) which lit the fire under our youth. Now the emergence of globalization – much to do with the lightning speed of communicating – has put humanity first, demanding the attention it has deserved for quite some time. As a result, the excitement for learning is at an all-time high, and it is contagious.
Schools Adapting To Change
According to Professor Zahir Irani with the Brunel University of London, “The university of the future will not be a cloistered outpost working on behalf of the few. It will be in the thick of it, solving problems for its city and community and turning out students equipped to continue doing so throughout their working lives.”
From an e-water tap for African nations and a flat-pack portable disaster home to a guitar with never-ending strings, the last century’s ‘science fairs’ pale in comparison to the inspiration demonstrated in this video of the Teen Tech 2015 Awards. Some teams chose to build fully functional prototypes, and industry judges were simply amazed at the creativity and skills shown by young people across the UK.
The Future Is Bright
Did you know that over 52k UK businesses are run by students? It stands to reason. There’s not much today’s youth can’t accomplish with a strong Internet connection and a spark of imagination. You can find anything from a 3D-printed bionic arm to everything you need to slap a business together – even law advice online.
And, according to Youthsite ‘s recent survey of over 1000, 15pc will graduate with a startup plan in their future. Of the would-be-entrepreneurs, 45pc are moved by the desire of independent thought, while 27pc believe there’s more money to be had than if they were to become employees.
Surprisingly, STEM students (science, tech, engineering and math) are less likely to head out on their own. Certainly, they would seem to have a sure spot in the tech world we live in today. But, it’s possible these statistics could be more about the tendency of those with scientific leanings to carefully consider their options, and less about contemplating job insecurity.
It Takes A Village
Pay it forward, by contributing to an eco-system of encouragement for today’s youth. Reach out to professors and recruiters and find passionate students who can bring their talent into your new startup, as they gain inspiration from you. Meanwhile they’ll start racking up street smarts, which will prove to be invaluable when pitching ideas to future investors. And, you never know – that intern may just end up taking your business to a new level.
A social enterprise, We Walk the Line teaches disadvantaged young entrepreneurs to become self-sufficient traders by selling artisanal coffees. You can support by purchasing their coffee, or hiring them to pitch a pop up at your next event.
It’s not your mother’s lemonade stand. Virgin’s Make £5 Grow programme offers kids 9-11 years old the chance of having the incredible experience of creating a business on their own. The schools get to keep the profits, and teachers receive instruction packs and access to a Virgin advisor. It used to be a rarity to hear of an entrepreneur who began a business career in their teens, but funding these pre-teens’ imaginative ideas is truly out-of-the-box thinking.