Yesterday in the Budget one of my favourite announcements was the Chancellor’s proposal of a £10m enterprise loan scheme. Loans of up to £10,000 will be made available for people aged 18-24. It is being billed as the equivalent of a Student Loan for University students.
Why is this crucial? In the UK we have become far too focused on higher education. Tony Blair’s “education, education and education” mentality has fed through into society to the extent that going to University has simply become the norm. Students no longer weigh up their options, they simply plod along and get a degree.
The introduction of £9,000 tuition fees (which I supported) has made very little difference to applications from 18 year olds sadly. A degree is becoming worth less, even worthless to many. There will be scores of graduates who never pay off their student loans, never quite reaching the wage required to begin repaying their loans. It is time in Britain that we realise that not everybody can be a Doctor, a CEO or an MP and tackled the problem of university culture.
I’m not being a degree snob here, far from it. In fact I’d happily admit that as a PPE student I could have learned 75% of the stuff simply by reading in my own time. But I think its high time we remember that university is a privilege, not a right and we should only strive for excellence.
With that in mind, I’m thrilled to see that the Coalition are encouraging other avenues for school leavers. They have increased the number of apprenticeships and now are introducing enterprise loans. The trial scheme will offer 7,000 young entrepreneurs the chance to get a hand-up into the business world, and will essentially be a venture capitalist scheme – think Dragon’s Den but without the shoulder pads. It has been championed by Virgin tycoon Richard Branson, who has campaigned for young people throughout his career.
The loans would be paid back when the businesses start making a profit, or if the business fails, when the applicant starts earning a reasonable wage (similar to student loans).
It is time in Britain that we once again support the youth of today, rather than demonise them. With ridiculously high youth unemployment we cannot allow the rhetoric to continue that young people are idle and feckless. Far from it we are the future of this nation and we should be encouraging young people to take this step into business.