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Youth Entrepreneurship

Volume 652: debated on Tuesday 8 January 2019

A total of 390,000 18 to 24-year olds are involved in starting businesses in the UK, and the British Business Bank has provided £52 million in start-up loans to young people since 2012. In December we launched a youth engagement programme, including a celebration of UK science, technology, engineering and maths projects and an industrial strategy competition to inspire 13 to 19-year-olds.

I welcome that and I welcome the start-up loans scheme, which has helped a lot of young entrepreneurs, but will the Minister talk with his counterparts in the Department for Education to see how we can embed entrepreneurship and life skills in business into the school curriculum?

Absolutely. Indeed, as a Minister also in the Department for Education, I work with that Department and understand the importance of ensuring that young people develop entrepreneurial skills. Our careers strategy launched in 2017 places a strong emphasis on our interaction with entrepreneurs. We have connected more than 2,000 schools and colleges with enterprise advisers, launched a £2.5 million investment fund to support employer encounters, and created 20 new career hubs.

Sam’s Kitchen was set up by a young entrepreneur in Crawley several years ago. On meeting him recently, he reported a large number of frequent and, it seems, unnecessary inspections. How can we make sure that we get the balance right between necessary regulation and not imposing too much of a burden on young, growing businesses?

I understand that Sam French is a young entrepreneur selling homemade gingerbread men and women. I congratulate him on his success. Perhaps he may like to send some to you to sample, Mr Speaker. I am pleased that he shares his experience with other young entrepreneurs. It is important, however, that inspections in the food industry are based on a national code of practice and are intended to give the necessary reassurances to business and consumers so that they can buy products with absolute confidence.

Is not part of the problem of encouraging youth entrepreneurship that vocational education is seen as second rate? How will we change that?

The hon. Gentleman raises a very important point, which is why the Government have commissioned the Augur review to look at post-18 education. In addition, we are developing a full range of T-levels that will soon be operational. It is absolutely important that we level the playing field and ensure that the 50% of people who are not going to university have that opportunity to develop their skills going forward, particularly around technical education.