Last weekend, David Cameron set out his ideas to promote growth and enterprise in the economy. It’s important because I feel strongly that we need to lend a hand to those who find themselves out of work as a result of the action required to tackle the huge black hole in the public finances.
I don’t agree with those people who take the over-simplified view that the private sector is efficient and the public sector is not. It is not as simple as that. You only have to look at the incompetence and profligacy in the banking industry to see that the private sector doesn’t always get it right. Equally, you will often find among those who work in the public sector a strong sense of vocation and commitment. This makes them very employable and, despite the current uncertainty, many will find that, as one door closes, another opens.
A few weeks ago I met one of the recruitment agencies helping support former public sector employees back in to work. They told me there are a lot of opportunities for people coming from the public sector. In many cases, their most important task was to help people realise that and get their confidence back. When the news is dominated by talk of cuts and job losses, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that new businesses are starting up all the time – 30,000 in January alone and with these come new jobs.
Many people who have worked in the public sector have what it takes to become successful entrepreneurs. They often have good organisational skills, understand how to plan and deliver projects and are used to dealing with the public. The lesson from past recessions is that getting such people to ‘have a go’ and set up on their own in their thousands is one of the key ways to improving prosperity and creating the jobs of the future.
The government has created a new Enterprise Allowance to give unemployed people grants to help them set up their own business. They are also looking at measures to slash red tape and ease the burdens which hold back smaller businesses already up and running.
But it’s not all down to government. Successful economies are shaped by individuals with bright ideas which make money. The solution lies in creating an enterprise culture and that very often emerges from difficult times.
Last year I visited Real Base Training in Redruth which takes young people at risk of exclusion from school and inspires them with the idea that they could be their own boss. Last week I received a letter from a project called “Tenner Tycoon” which aims to promote enterprise in all schools by giving young people £10 to develop their business idea. These are small steps but the sort of thing we should encourage.