Weiji, from Google Translate. Crisis, with or without the opportunity. Public Domain.

Opportunity for a generation

As the International Labour Organization (ILO) puts it:

It is not easy to be young in the labour market today

At the same time, the data suggests it’s a great time to be alive. One full of human possibility.

Doom, gloom and demographics

Globally, more than 70 million young people (under the age of 24) are unemployed. They are already competing with 125 million experienced jobseekers. In addition, people already in employment are living longer, and extending their working lives, by choice, or by compulsion.

One of many factors contributing to the “employment crunch” is agriculture. Every day, fewer of us farm. The world is shifting from one in which 70–80% of the population are farmers, to one in which farmers make up less than one percent. Yet, more food is available for everyone.

Agriculture is but one example of the double-edged sword of modernity. Daily life is simply less laborious. Convenience and speed are ubiquitous. Traditional jobs are less abundant.

In policy we trust?

Task forces and policies for “creating jobs” feature in every news cycle. Barack Obama is sorting it out. David Cameron is building the next Silicon Valley. Even the UN is on the case!

Governments and international bodies can make doing business easier or more difficult. They can spend more on infrastructure and other projects. In the past, they stimulated the economy with lower interest rates. However, they cannot change the structure of the labour market. They cannot turn back the clock on modernity.

For any of us to put our faith in political soundbites is naïve. We must look elsewhere.

Alternative mindset

What if the best career paths are not the ones suggested by teachers, politicians, and large companies? What if the best career advice is to listen to yourself? Follow what interests you. Follow your own passions. Follow your own talents.

Consider a world in which you listen to the voice inside your own head, rather than the voices of large corporations, and the politicians and celebrities they sponsor. Consider the world where rather than chase the expectations of others, you just exude calm and confidence.

The speed and convenience of the modern era means you can sell any talent or passion around the world, with minimal cost. There are many demands which large corporations will not serve. Customers whom they ignore. Large corporations ignore the unempowered. They ignore the unemployed.

But people are “doing well by doing good”. Businesses like Azuri and M-Kopa. Businesses like Makers Academy and Iron Yard. If you grow the economic pie by empowering the under-empowered, you won’t find large companies treading on your patch.

Opportunities

Artists of all kinds have immense opportunities. The success of Owl City would be impossible without the convenience and technology of today. Or Tay Zonday. Watch Labrinth at work.

Material artists can leverage platforms like Etsy to sell their art. Colllectors can find them directly, or through platforms like Kollecto. They can fund their films and installations through Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

Maybe you’re not an artist yourself. Maybe you’re just a movie nerd. Or a 14-year-old from Spanish Fork, Utah. Perhaps you just like hanging out in your bedroom with your friends. Doing what you love pays off.

You can run your own business. You can do it any time of day or night. You can do it anywhere in the world with electricity and internet. No matter what talent you already have, you will learn new skills. You will connect with new people. You will push yourself. On the other side is valuable experience for any other venture.

And you will own it. Although traditional employment has its appeal, you are building someone else’s asset. You don’t own that business. Robert Kiyosaki explains this point well. Build your assets.

Yes, starting your own business challenges you. Challenges you in ways you won’t experience in a large organisation. Traction and income from a new business start slowly. However, starting your own business neither precludes you from continuing with other jobs, nor does it require significant investment capital. Being “the boss” can be lonely at times, but advice from family, friends, mentors and advisors helps you make your countless decisions. The roller coaster of startups also demands maturity, but you’ll have fun as you accumulate that experience and wisdom.

I’m ready

So just launch! The web is full of useful resources like Founders Path to help you on your way.