Students (and Scouts) get the entrepreneur bug

'A quarter' of students plan to launch a business - and could woggles replace ties in offices across the UK?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Being a student must be hard work these days: not only will you end up with thousands of pounds’ worth of debt, but there's a good chance Vince Cable is lurking in the gatekeeper’s lodge, waiting to slap a graduates’ tax on you as soon as you make it out of the gates. All in all, studenthood is no longer the halcyon time it once was – so it doesn’t come as any major surprise that students are turning to enterprise to earn some extra cash: apparently 23% of students ‘run or are about to launch’ their own enterprise.

Figures by Hiscox insurance show one in three students say the shortage of jobs has made them consider working for themselves, while almost a third say they’ve already had a business idea and almost 20% say they want to be self-employed at some stage. It’s difficult not to question that 23% figure, though: while we don’t doubt some are very entrepreneurial, it’s only been three years since this particular voice of MT left university, and students were still, for the large part, too drunk to think about anything as proactive as starting a business. Perhaps Hiscox has chosen to include those who flog their old phones on eBay (and possibly the odd drug dealer) in the ‘run or are about to launch a business’ category.

Either way, it sounds like university is taking on a considerably more entrepreneurial air – 19% of those surveyed said they want to be self-employed at some stage, while another one in 10 say even though they won’t run their own business straight after graduation, they do plan to work for themselves sometime in the future.

But those students could face some stiff competition: it's emerged The Scout Association is planning to launch an entrepreneur badge, to give scouts the chance to add running a business to their already-impressive range of skills, which includes the arts enthusiast badge, the public relations badge and the delightful-sounding ‘my faith’ badge.

The badge was the brainchild of Homeserve domestic insurance founder Richard Harpin, who has put forward £50,000 to fund the badge. Apparently future entrepreneurs will earn the badge after they‘ve undergone several rigorous tests, including the now-ubiquitous Dragons’ Den-style panel, where they will be judged on their business ideas.

Given that it doesn’t involve knots or orienteering, the badge might not come as welcome news to scout traditionalists, but with the jobs market still in a dire state, teaching kids how to support themselves may well be a stroke of inspiration. Woggles at the ready…

In today's bulletin:
Growth hits four year high - but may have peaked
Microsoft pips Apple - and other US bellwethers shine too
UK insurance fraud hits record £840bn
Students (and Scouts) get the entrepreneur bug
Editor's blog: We're balancing on a knife-edge

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime