Rise in alternative career paths sees surge in young entrepreneurs

Gen Z is set to become the most qualified generation with 80% on course to complete higher education

Rise in alternative career paths

The majority of people leave school at 18 facing major decisions about their future, including whether to continue into higher education or join the world of work. Gen Z is set to become the most qualified generation with 80% on course to complete higher education1

However, student satisfaction is being impacted by rising costs and inflation, so much so that 35% of people thinking about attending university are reconsidering that choice22

Apprenticeships and the entry-level job market may become increasingly competitive as people consider alternative life paths to further or higher education. However, for people thinking of becoming their own boss or starting their own business, there is a whole world of opportunity. In 2015, 8% of school leavers founded their own business33

Considering the impact rising costs of education will have had since then, this percentage could increase. Start Up Loans has provided more than £100m of finance to 18-24 year olds since 2012 – around 10% of the scheme’s total funding supported. Since just 2020, Start Up Loans has issued over £40m worth of funds to entrepreneurs aged between 18-24 and is on course to loan £10m this financial year.

Start Up Loans is set up to help those who might traditionally struggle to qualify for a loan, with young entrepreneurs certainly falling into this group. 

As a country we should be incredibly proud of the entrepreneurial spirit across the younger generations, who are often berated in the media for supposedly lacking some of the ‘can-do’ attitude of older cohorts such as Gen X. It’s a trope that is patently untrue, as can been seen through the many examples of the inspirational young people who have started businesses through our programme.

The side-hustle culture so popular among younger people also provides strong indication of drive and entrepreneurial spirit. Many young people cite a lack of job security and low pay as their reasons for starting their own business, while many start so they can earn supplementary income. Astonishingly, 92% of successful businesses started by young entrepreneurs began as a side hustle44

Another influential reason for 18-24s pursuing their own entrepreneurial journey is their generation’s desire for more fulfilling work. While money remains the most important factor to 70% of Gen Z when considering an employment role, this generation typically are seen to care less about money than previous ones. 

Instead, motivations such as a greater focus on work-life balance, the chance to pursue a business dream and having control over their work makes founding a business – or turning a side hustle into a full-time enterprise – an attractive option.

A young entrepreneur securing a Start Up Loan gets more than funds alone. We’re extremely proud of the post loan support we offer, including mentoring, and this support makes us stand apart from the majority of the market. Guidance of this sort can be invaluable to many at the early stages of business ownership and many of the companies we fund are in contact with their mentors several times a week for advice on everything from marketing to accounting.

The cost of living is potentially driving people away from the usual path of further or higher education and entering the world of work at a younger age, but making it work around your needs is set to become more common place for 18-24s. So, whether by design or by choice, alternative career paths may well see an increase in popularity. Start Up Loans will always be grateful to hear from entrepreneurs, young and old, about their ideas and how we can support them. 

If you have an idea, or a business that has been trading for less than four years, but are yet to explore financing options, visit https://www.startuploans.co.uk/ to find out more.

  1. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11729641/Youngsters-three-times-qualifications-parents-hold-job.html  ↩︎
  2. https://www.fenews.co.uk/education/1-in-5-young-adults-re-think-plans-to-attend-university-due-to-cost-of-living-crisis/ ↩︎
  3. https://www.djsresearch.co.uk/EducationMarketResearchInsightsAndFindings/article/A-quarter-of-teens-dont-know-what-to-do-after-compulsory-education-survey-finds-02416 ↩︎
  4. https://startupsmagazine.co.uk/article-92-gen-z-founders-start-their-business-side-hustle ↩︎
Richard Bearman
Richard Bearman

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