The Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

At Willow Tree Primary School

The story developed after primary and secondary schoolchildren were polled for their views on starting a business.

The results revealed that whilst young people have real entrepreneurial aspirations, with 42% wanting to start their own business, only 6% of today’s UK start-ups are aged 25 or under, showing more must be done to boost the next generation of wealth creators and demonstrating ambition is not translating into business creation.



The UK could be at risk of missing out on vital growth, to be delivered by the next generation of entrepreneurs unless action is taken, warns Barclays as new research is published today. 

Yet analysis reveals that the proportion of UK start-ups run by entrepreneurs aged 25 and under in 2016 was just 6%. This is lower than any other age category of start-up owners, demonstrating a critical gap between ambition and the number of start-ups run by young people. 

Barriers to entrepreneurship

Despite great ambition, a third (36%) of school children don’t actually know what an ‘entrepreneur’ is, confusing the term for a ‘French man’, a ‘magician’, or a ‘circus man’. What’s more, school children believe that there are significant barriers to becoming an entrepreneur and you need certain qualities to succeed, including:

  • Being able to take risks (45%)

  • Having luck on your side (27%)

  • Having family connections (17%)
A Boy and a Girl sit smiling at The Landing

Furthermore, one in seven (16%) think you need to be an adult to start your own business; a tenth (11%) think it’s only open to rich people and 9% think you need to do well at school.

The Silicon Playground

Of the children who want to start a business when they grow up, digital businesses are the most popular sector of interest. Over a fifth (22%) of children say they want to start a digital business, citing vlogging, app building or video game design as examples. The research also demonstrates the future business skills this generation already holds; more than half (54%) of 8-16 year olds count blogging amongst their digital skills and 37% can code. A quarter (27%) can build apps and 23% say they can build websites.


Two Girls sitting on the floor surrounded by beanbags while they work on their laptop project together

Without direct investment in education to help nurture and develop these skills and to remove barriers to entrepreneurship, the UK could lag behind other countries as a breeding ground for young business starters of the future. With this in mind, Barclays has created tailored educational content to help young people develop ‘21st Century Skills’ through its LifeSkills programme. LifeSkills created by Barclays teaches 11-24 year olds vital skills needed in the world of business, while the bank runs events for younger children through our Eagle Labs across the UK to help map out ambitions from a young age.

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