Britain is brimming with future entrepreneurs, a new study into young people's ambitions has concluded.

According to the survey of 2,000 youngsters, commissioned to support the Ambition AXA Awards, more than three-quarters of 11 to 18-year-olds (77 per cent) say they would like to start their own business in the future.  And around half (47 per cent) say that they have always wanted to be their own boss.

TV programmes such as The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den and the high profile of entrepreneurs, particularly those creating successful online businesses such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Skype, are having a profound effect on the dreams of Britain’s children. Online or digital businesses and IT are among the most popular areas of business interest for young Brits, with more than one in five (22 per cent) saying this is where they intend to pursue their ambitions. 

Encouragingly, there is no dramatic difference in entrepreneurial ambition between the genders: 75 per cent of girls want to run a business of their own, almost matching the 80 per cent of boys with the same determination.

Karren Brady, one of the Ambition AXA Awards judges and a champion of young people in business, said: “It’s wonderful to see that at last the number of women being motivated into entering the business world is growing.  Gender should never be an issue when it comes to achieving ambitions and has no place in the modern world. I’ve long been aware that women like me are paving the way for our daughters, so it’s rewarding to see that this is now happening.”

While entrepreneurship is burgeoning among young Brits, the Ambition AXA Awards survey reveals that more can still be done to support and nurture entrepreneurship. Of the quarter of young people not keen on running their own business, 17 per cent say it is down to a lack of confidence.  However, the majority admit it is down to finances: 40 per cent worry about the money required to start it, while 38% are concerned by the risk of failure.

The overall findings are backed by business education charity Young Enterprise, whose own data reveals that 250,000 of their members are under 18.  Catherine Marchant, Director of Young Enterprise, said: “It’s heartening to see how many young people dream of becoming an entrepreneur. We’re living in a culture where stories of dreams started in someone’s bedroom becoming big business abound, and that’s clearly having an inspirational effect.

“What concerns me among these results is that many say they lack the confidence to follow their dream or fear failure. That is why we put 5,000 volunteers from 3,500 real businesses into classrooms up and down the UK every year to inspire young people and give them the skills and ambition to succeed in business. Programmes like The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den and schemes such as the Ambition AXA Awards can only help.”

The study into ambition in young people was commissioned to support AXA’s initiative the Ambition AXA Awards.  The £200,000 awards scheme for 11-18 year olds rewards young UK talent and achievement in Enterprise, Science, Community, Sport and The Arts. Five talented young people could each win a bespoke mentoring prize worth up to £40,000 (a total prize fund of £200,000). The deadline for applications is 14 October 2011 and the winners will be announced on 30 November 2011, after which the judging panel will work with the winners to create a development package that will help them to achieve their goals.

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For further information, please contact:

Paratus Communications - Tel: 020 7404 6691

Zoe Sobol: Tel: 07971 066034 / zsobol@paratuscommunications.com

Dominic Shales: Tel: 07976 248321 / dshales@paratuscommunications.com

AXA UK:

Miranda Bellord: Tel: Tel: 0207 920 5141 / 07964 501800 / Miranda.Bellord@axa-uk.co.uk   

Jennifer Watters: Tel: 020 7920 5312 / 07896 426948 / Jennifer.Watters@axa-uk.co.uk

Notes to Editors

The Ambition AXA Awards website is www.ambitionaxaawards.com.

About the survey:

The survey was conducted by OnePoll in early June 2011 among 2,000 11 - 18 year olds.

Ambition AXA Awards judging panel:

  • Joining Sir Alan Steer and Paul Evans, AXA UK CEO, on the Ambition AXA Awards judging panel are:
  • Enterprise – Karren Brady, Vice Chairman of West Ham United, and John May, CEO of Young Enterprise
  • Science – Jason Bradbury, Presenter of The Gadget Show, and Annette Smith, CEO of The Association of Science Education
  • Community – Camila Batmanghelidjh, Founder of Kids Company, and Lucy de Groot, CEO of CSV
  • Sport – Amy Williams, Olympic gold medallist, and Marc Woods, Paralympian and Director of The Youth Sport Trust
  • The Arts – Alex James, musician, and Laura Gander-Howe, Director, Learning & Skills Strategy at The Arts Council England

About AXA UK:

AXA UK is a part of the AXA Group. AXA Group is a worldwide leader in insurance and asset management, with 214,000 employees serving 95 million clients. It is ranked the largest insurer in the world by net written premium and the top insurance brand globally.

In the UK AXA is focused on three key areas: wealth management, insurance and healthcare. It operates through a number of business units including: AXA Wealth; AXA Commercial Lines, AXA Personal Lines, AXA PPP healthcare, AXA Ireland and an independent distribution business Bluefin. AXA employs over 12,000 staff in the UK.

In 2010, IFRS revenues amounted to Euro 91 billion and IFRS underlying earnings to Euro 3.9 billion. AXA had Euro 1,104 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2010.

The AXA ordinary share is listed on compartment A of Euronext Paris under the ticker symbol CS (ISN FR 0000120628 – Bloomberg: CS FP – Reuters: AXAF.PA). AXA’s American Depository Shares are also quoted on the OTC QX platform under the ticker symbol AXAHY.

The Group is included in the main international SRI indexes, such as Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and FTSE4GOOD. 

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