Entrepreneurial potential of young people in the regions of the Slovak Republic

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Among the at-risk groups in the labour market are, among others, young people up to the age of 29 who have left school. Young people who are unemployed after leaving school have nowhere to gain work habits, and over time they also lose the knowledge, skills and habits they have acquired. If youth unemployment is of a long-term nature, then it is a societal risk. One solution to prevent youth unemployment is to motivate young people to become entrepreneurs.

Statistical data show that the number of young people under the age of 29 is decreasing in Slovakia. Similar trends are also observed in the other V4 countries, despite fluctuating year-on-year gains or losses. However, the share of young people in the total population of Slovakia is also decreasing. Despite this, youth unemployment in Slovakia is higher than the average for European Union countries.

Entrepreneurship as one of the forms of self-fulfilment is chosen by young people up to 29 years of age all over Slovakia. The largest share of young entrepreneurs – natural persons in the total number of entrepreneurs in individual regions is in the Nitra, Prešov and Žilina Regions. Looking at the share of young entrepreneurs in the total number of young people in the region, the largest number of entrepreneurs under 29 years of age is in the Bratislava, Žilina and Nitra Regions. Young people are most active in construction, business services and industry, and least active in agriculture and other services.

For the purpose of the analysis, the SBA conducted a survey among young people in secondary and higher education in all regions of Slovakia. The survey found that young people are not prone to entrepreneurship. Often they do not even have entrepreneurial experience, which can have a negative impact on increasing business risk. Both secondary school and university students are well informed about entrepreneurship, with school and the media, especially the internet, being their primary sources of information. At the same time, however, respondents expressed an interest in entrepreneurial stories. Based on the only confirmed hypothesis, it was found that those pupils/students who are most interested in entrepreneurial stories are those who are motivated by career growth at work. That is why one of the recommendations is for schools and media to make entrepreneurial stories accessible to today’s school pupils and students via the internet.

Young people with entrepreneurial potential are particularly interested in venture capital and new industries. Young entrepreneurs see entrepreneurship as a path to self-fulfilment. The respondents’ view that they would be interested in getting a job and gaining experience first before starting their own business seems interesting. In addition to self-fulfilment, the reason for entrepreneurship is to fulfil a dream or business idea. Young people can imagine their business mainly in commerce or other services and mostly in the region where they live. The entrepreneur is perceived by today’s young people as a person who works hard to make it in the fierce competition and to make his/her dreams come true.

The qualitative research, which was conducted by the SBA in the form of roundtable discussions, drew conclusions in 4 areas. The most important prerequisites for starting a business include self-fulfilment, a desire for adventure, curiosity, a desire to excel, to do exceedingly well, perseverance, and a passion for the business. Family is important to any young start-up entrepreneur. On the one hand, as a stimulating factor (suitable pro-entrepreneurial family environment or acquired entrepreneurial experience with family support). On the other hand, a strong desire for entrepreneurship in young people can work in spite of an unfavourable family background. Often young people decide to run a business alongside their job.

The start of business was considered by the roundtable discussants to be a critical period. Young people – start-up entrepreneurs were mainly influenced by the pressure and fear of the future, as well as the fact that they could not predict the outcome of the business. Therefore, according to young existing entrepreneurs, it is important to work hard and honestly from the beginning of the business, which conveys satisfaction to consumers and brings general benefit.

A third important factor influencing the entrepreneurial activity of young people is the education system and the pro-entrepreneurial mentality. Currently, entrepreneurship as a separate subject is not implemented at schools, but pupils and students can gain entrepreneurial experience through a mock company (currently of little interest), a fictitious company, or at university in the subject Entrepreneurship of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Although pupils and students are interested in entrepreneurial stories, the interest in including them in the classroom is low from the point of view of educators. The main reason for this is that discussions with entrepreneurs take away from the teachers’ time, which they had allocated in accordance with the curricula. There appears to be more scope for entrepreneur-related activities at private schools.

Support and assistance to young start-up entrepreneurs is mainly offered by the Young Entrepreneurs Association, which also has in its portfolio the possibility to mediate the participation of young entrepreneurs in international associations and international cooperation.