Is the entrepreneurial spirit of the Apprentice the answer for graduates?

Graduate entrpreneurs

By Pamela Head,

There have been two monumental occasions in my life recently: My Masters graduation ceremony, and the Apprentice 2013 final.

One was the culmination of a year of solid hard work to try and get one foot on the rung of employment, and the other was a television ‘reality’ show watching others try to do the same thing. And this week we’re greeted with the news that these two events have combined, as graduates consider entrepreneurialism after they leave university as a way around the difficulties in finding employment.

The number of graduates ‘seriously considering’ working for themselves has risen by 15% from last year, with one in four 2013 leavers now planning on becoming businesspeople. A survey of 2,000 students by Save the Graduate discovered that 8.6% of students who are unemployed, expect a starting salary of a tiny £17,600 and two thirds are considering unpaid internships just to scrape experience together.

It appears there are few options for the struggling graduate. You can endlessly apply for jobs in anything you feel qualified for. You can try and get yourself onto an internship, probably unpaid, where you’ll be able to gain some workplace experience. Or you can take a low-paid job as a cleaner or in retail to cover the bills and potentially work your way into a managerial role.

But with thousands of graduates in their mortarboards and ‘Harry Potter cloaks’ spilling out of every university across the country this week armed with shiny degree certificates, you’re in for a difficult battle to get yourself noticed.

As shows like The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den promote the benefits of being an entrepreneur, it’s no surprise that more and more graduates are seeing this as a path to success. Notable figureheads for these shows include Lord Sugar, the self-made millionaire who started his own business when he was but a toddler and Theo Paphitis, originally a tea boy at a London insurance broker before he decided to make his millions in retail.

Their success, heavily promoted on primetime television in the midst of a recession prompts one question: If they can do it, then why can’t I?

So if you’re bored of filling out endless application forms and you think you’ve got a great idea that’ll revolutionise the world, then join your fellow graduates and give it a shot.

Who knows, that might just be the solution to this country’s current economic plight.