Start-up support for young people

Youth entrepreneurship can potentially play an important role in easing the entry of young people into the labour market in the context of increasing youth unemployment since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.

Business development support, counselling and mentoring, and access to finance are at the core of many policy interventions helping young people to enter the labour market as well as to release their entrepreneurial talent. These interventions are often embedded in existing active labour market policies and do not exclusively target young people. The experience gained so far in designing, implementing and delivering start-up support schemes may contribute to a successful implementation of the Youth Guarantee.

Against this background, this project mapped the availability and variety of start-up support for young people in the EU and reviewed the results of those measures that have been previously evaluated.

Selected key findings:

  • Many publicly supported start-up interventions for young people are discrete, small-scale, temporary measures with relatively limited financial resources. They also tend to be stand-alone measures rather than fully embedded in larger entrepreneurship policies or youth employment strategies.
  • Although the Youth Guarantee has helped to place many of the existing measures under an overall youth employment strategy, more effort should be made to enhance the complementarity between the available measures, improve coherence in the overall approach, and highlight the relevance for young people of pre-existing general start-up support measures.
  • The growing policy interest in youth entrepreneurship has not been matched by sound evaluations. When policy evaluations are carried out, they are rarely an integrated part of the policy delivery.
  • Among the studies reviewed, the most statically sophisticated evaluations found limited or no policy impact. Less robust evaluations and simpler evaluation techniques tend to yield more positive findings. One way forward is to combine different methods which are likely to increase the reliability of the evaluation results.
  • Public expenditure on start-up support for young people, especially so called ‘soft’ support (for example training, coaching and mentoring), is likely to grow over the coming years in the context of the implementation of the Youth Guarantee; it is therefore particularly important to assess the impact of these interventions on the subsequent labour market outcomes of young people, regardless of whether they remain self-employed or move to paid employment.

The report and executive summary are now published and available online.