With the employment rate at an all-time low for new college graduates, more and more programs are being formed designed to transform college grads into entrepreneurs.
A new non-profit group, Venture for America, will start a program in June with 45 new college graduates who will work for two years in start-up companies in struggling cities. In Colorado and Massachusetts, new college grads will work a paid summer internship in a program called Startup America.
Harvard University, meanwhile, opened a lab in November and is providing money and a place to work for teams of students with good business ideas.
In addition, corporations have indicated they will hire 10 percent more college graduates, according to a survey in March by National Association of Colleges and Employers, which analyzes hiring trends.
All of these chances for college grads to start businesses are indicative of the tough market for new grads. At the end of 2011, a study showed the employment rate for 18-to-24-year-olds reached an all-time low of just fewer than 55 percent. That’s the lowest since the Labor Department first conducted the surveys in 1948, according to a Pew Research Center study released earlier this year.
The majority of students are … taking what they can get,” according to Clint Borchard, 30, a University of Nevada-Reno junior who is hoping to begin a company in the summer that builds affordable homes that rely almost solely on renewable energy.
Borchard is a finalist is a competition on the University of Nevada-Reno campus that is designed to jump-start regional growth. The winning team wins $50,000.
Students who do begin their own companies are bucking the trend. A study by the Kauffman Foundation, a national non-profit that studies entrepreneurship, concluded new business owners are about 43 – on average – when they start their first companies. The
Problems facing college grads are student loans and the ability to get enough money to begin a company.
The White House recently hosted a forum urging entrepreneurship for students at black colleges. That campaign is called “Fix YoungAmerica” and the idea is to provide incentives for young business owners such as forgiveness of student loans.
Doug Neal, who heads up the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship, put it this way: “Many of the students are very passionate about having an impact on the world.” They are saying, “How do I make my own way?”