We are now well into the last quarter of the year, and for university students, the academic year is back in full swing. UCAS reported that university applications hit an all-time high this year - 2.3 million students are currently enrolled in higher education.
Headlines I’ve seen that frustrate me include ‘GenZers are workshy, selfish and greedy, say millennials’ and ‘When did university degrees go from worthwhile to worthless?’. These stories feed the idea that students are idle. This attitude is perhaps fuelled by the reality that attending university is an option now open to all - and for some, it is considered merely a rite of passage rather than a genuine stepping stone towards a predetermined career goal. However, many students possess a very robust entrepreneurial work ethic - particularly the new digitally savvy generation coming to the fore.
When we observe the facts, according to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), in 2018 roughly 14,000 student startups and social enterprises generated £821m in turnover. This notable revenue totals more than both Boohoo Group (£603m) and Hello Fresh (£801m). Since 2014, the UK’s graduate startups and social enterprises have turned over an estimated £2.8bn in total - an impressive feat for students balancing business with studies. These revenue statistics alone showcase just how fruitful student enterprise is for the UK economy. In the past five years, graduates registered a total of 16,202 new businesses within two years of leaving university.
Figures such as these show that stereotypes often associated with Gen Z and graduates are tired and archaic. Graduates pursuing business goals can only be a positive prospect, and in these uncertain economic times, it is promising to see that student-founded businesses have found a way to develop and thrive.
These final months of the year are essential to push to get performance numbers up to leave the year in a profitable, strong position. In my company we consistently see graduates achieving highly and outperforming much more experienced colleagues within a matter of months in role. In the current economic climate, it is encouraging to see entrepreneurial attitudes emerging - we should be doing all we can to nurture talent.