There’s a notion, one you’re no doubt all too familiar with, that America is in need of an economic refresh. The troubles are likely to intensify as millions of Millennials try to join the workforce, only to be met with what Scott Gerber, the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), calls, “America’s youth unemployment epidemic.” So Gerber’s trying to get Stephen Colbert to help provide a cure.
Gerber decided to take action, and together with The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), the largest honor society organization in the country, MTV Act, which celebrates young people taking action to make things better, and mtvU, MTV’s college network, #FixYoung America rallies will be held on more than 300 college campuses this Thursday, April 19, reaching more than 1 million Americans.
The problem is profound. Even as the nation’s unemployment rate edges down toward 8%, the youth unemployment rate still clocks in at about 23%! Gerber says he believes entrepreneurship is one important solution, and he predicts more Millennials will have to embrace some form of business ownership going forward. “The ‘free agent’ economy is a reality,” Gerber says, “and the educational system needs to prepare for that.”
Gerber is attacking the Gen Y workforce problem with 21st-century solutions. The #FixYoungAmerica campaign was launched with a crowdfunding initiative on Indiegogo. And one of the goals of Thursday’s 50-state, 300-campuses, 1 million-person rally is to recruit faux TV pundit and comedian Stephen Colbert to their cause.
Gerber, who calls Colbert the “Oprah of Gen Y” because “his voice resonates with us, and he’s a hero to many Millennials,” hopes Colbert Nation will take on the youth un- and under-employment crisis, much the way he brought attention to problems with presidential campaign fundraising (the Super PACs).
“We’re not trying to change the world overnight,” Geber says, “we know we’re in for a long slog.” But we need to “spotlight the proven solutions already working to propel young workers, including young unemployed veterans,” because these “solutions [are] rarely talked about in the public square, the political arena or the American mainstream media.”
Gerber was even more energized by watching the Occupy Wall Street movement spread across the country last year. He wants to “take the frustration of the [Occupiers], and turn it into tangible action.” People are listening; on Wednesday, Gerber will testify before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
The Great Recession took a lot out of all of us, both financially and psychologically. But Gerber says he believes America’s youth are particularly affected by the “new harsh realities.” He cites a recent survey commissioned by Junior Achievement and Allstate Insurance, which shows barely half (56 percent) of American teenagers think they’ll be as financially well-off or better off than their parents, a huge 37 percent decline in confidence from 2011.
Will this work? Can our inherent entrepreneurial spirit save the day? Gerber certainly thinks so – but not without help. Sure the stated goal of Thursday’s rally is “to give our nation’s students and recent graduates a much-needed ‘Colbert Bump.’ ” But it’s also to get your attention. So what do you think? Can we fix America?
Infographic courtesy of YEC and InfographicWorld.com
Colbert baby image courtesy of FixYoungAmerica.com