basketball-hoop-419264_640At the high water mark of the Great Recession, unemployment topped out at 10.8% in the United States. It took some time, but that number has slowly come down to where it is today, and it's trending lower.

That's great news no matter how you slice it, but there's one group that hasn't seen the benefits of the improving economy; our nation's youth. Youth unemployment is still hovering around 16%, and the United States is by no means alone in this. That's actually the average rate of youth unemployment across the G-20 nations, leading many to fear that our current generation of young workers might become a “lost generation.”

How Bad Is That?

Typically, a county's young people cut their teeth on low paying jobs that give them the entry level experience they need to move up the corporate ladder later in life, but that system has broken down for our current generation of young workers. Employers made a concerted effort to give hiring preference to older workers with families to support as the economy rebooted, which was great for the older, more seasoned workers, but it left a huge gulf in the employment of our younger workers. We may not be feeling the impacts of that now, but in ten years' time we very definitely will, unless something is done to change the direction we seem to be heading.

Self Employment Is One Answer

One way we can course correct is to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship among the nation's youth. If today's corporations aren't creating the jobs for them, then we need to be doing all that we can to encourage them to strike out on their own. To blaze new trails and create their own futures. That's the best way forward and it will provide them with important skills that they can't generally get simply by punching a clock for someone else. The question then, is how to do that?

How Can Business Help?

Business very definitely has a role to play. They can set up incubators where young people with an entrepreneurial streak can come together to brainstorm and test their ideas yes, but also where they can come to get mentored by the people who are currently running small to medium sized businesses. Today's mentor relationship could well become tomorrow's key strategic partnership as the young man or woman you took the time to take under your wing sees his or her dream take flight and builds a flourishing company;.a company that you got the opportunity to shape and influence.

That's both powerful and compelling, and that alone would make it worth doing. Of course, business can't do it alone, either. Public funding is vital, and to that end, business should be actively lobbying local governments to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit too, either directly with funding, or indirectly by providing tax breaks to the businesses that embrace the idea.

The bottom line is that as a business owner, you've not only got expertise to share with these young, aspiring entrepreneurs, but you've also got contacts and connections. If you spot an eager, fresh face with the next multi-million dollar idea, and you help him get his company off the ground, who do you think he'll look to partner with in the future?

Even if you're not in an position to give these kids jobs, and many businesses simply aren't, you're at the very least in a position to offer advice and training. To make some of your contacts available to the best of the best in your area. It's good business, and it's an excellent strategy for the long term.