Friday, March 23, 2012

Training youths in entrepreneurship could make them come back to rural places

The perceived lack of career opportunities is causing many rural youth to believe they have to leave their hometowns and never return, Craig Schroeder reports for the Daily Yonder. But according to a seven-year survey of rural youth, almost half aren't interested in traditional careers, but instead want to own their own businesses. "Rural places that tie their economic development resources to entrepreneurship-education can help these young people pursue their dreams and, in turn, revitalize, grow and diversify their own local economies," Schroeder writes.

The Center for Rural Entrepreneurship at the Rural Policy Research Institute, where Schroeder works, found in the survey that 51 percent of rural youth would move back home if there were job opportunities, but only one-third surveyed said an adult had asked for their ideas or encouraged their efforts to make the community a more attractive place. The findings were consistent in communities across the country. The Center has identified four key elements to developing and nurturing young entrepreneurs: interactive entrepreneurship education, supportive community environment, peer networking, pathways from education to opportunity. Schroeder details each element in the article.

"To be truly successful, youth entrepreneurship must become a priority within a community's economic development strategy," he writes. Youth entrepreneurship requires sustained effort and is vital to rural communities' survival, because as Schroeder writes: "It doesn’t so much matter what we do tomorrow or next week if in 20 years most of the current residents have passed on and the next generation has left town never to return." (Read more)

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