This article is part of Amway’s ‘Driving Entrepreneurship in Europe’ Knowledge Network

According to Eurostat, in 2016 more than 6,6 million young people aged 15-24 years were neither in employment nor in education or training in the European Union, where at the same time EU youth unemployment rate is more than double the overall unemployment rate. While the media focus on the youth, the generation aged 50+ is also facing a major employment challenge.

Some countries’ unemployment rates have risen exponentially since the onset of the economic crisis. In Ireland, the 50+ unemployment rates more than tripled from 3.6% to 11.1%, In Portugal it almost doubled and in Greece it more than quadrupled (from 3.8% to 15.8%).

Demographics and social changes all over Europe in the recent years have increased the risks of a perception of conflict between generations, especially when it comes to the labour market.

However, one of the emerging trends that could provide a solution to the millennials generation unemployment is intergenerational entrepreneurship, where senior and 50 plus “second career” entrepreneurs have begun to team up with younger partners to form start-ups.

The aim is to fight against both youth unemployment and providing elders with a chance to use and transfer their skills and knowledge even after retirement. Stakeholders from the European Parliament, European Commission, academia and private companies came together to define intergenerational entrepreneurship last Tuesday at the public event “Boosting Europe’s Growth through Intergenerational Entrepreneurship” which took place at the EU Parliament in Brussels.

Full house for the event “Boosting Europe’s Growth through Intergenerational Entrepreneurship” promoted by 50+Entrepreneurship Platform Europe on 15 November 2016 – © Amway – Courtesy of Aspect Consulting

The event, hosted by the European People’s Party (EPP) Group MEP, Ivan Stefanec, and the Alliance for Liberal and Democrats in Europe MEP, Dita Charanzova, was the occasion to present the 50+Entrepreneurship Platform Europe, a group of like-minded organisations, corporates, NGOs and academia whose mission is to ensure policy makers consider the important contribution that 50+ entrepreneurship can make to Europe’s economy and society.

The event was a great chance for the 50+ Platform to discuss and learn about different perspectives on how a joint approach could be developed and implemented to harness the potential of intergenerational entrepreneurship.

“We are living a digital revolution. For younger generation, it could be a huge possibility for business, but sometimes they do not know how to transform their ideas in reality. Therefore, the intergenerational dialogue is crucial not to miss this potential” said Charanzova, who also underlined the importance of merging the 50 plus generation’s business experience with the digital skills of the millennials. 

EPP MEP Heinz K. Becker addressed the socio-economic benefits of youth and seniors collaboration stressing out the importance of the know how that the 50 plus generation could bring in for young entrepreneurs. “Regarding how to handle risk in business, the elders have knowledge and know how, and they dare to risk because they know the potential risks and how to handle them” observed Becker.

The 50+ platform harvested a great consensus across the political spectrum. Socialist & Democrat’s MEP Brando Benifei welcomed the initiative as a “milestone” for the European Parliament.

“It is time to take further actions in terms of the support to collaborative intergenerational business-models and start-ups. The calculated benefits of those potential initiatives are significant, both in economic and in social terms; we cannot miss this challenge” highlighted Benifei. A positive vision of the potential benefits that is shared also by private companies.

“The European Commission’s statistics show that more than 1/3 of the world population will be over 50 by 2030 and now more seniors than ever before wish to stay active and explore new entrepreneurial opportunities” said Michael Meissner, Vice President of Amway.

“There is a need to establish formal schemes of supporting intergenerational entrepreneurship” said Meissner, “and Amway sees a necessity in bringing these demographics together and enhancing reciprocal intergenerational solidarity through exchange of knowledge and vital skills”.

“Intergenerational entrepreneurship is a competitive advantage and an opportunity” concluded Meissner, calling Member States to build knowledge, understanding and support for 50+ entrepreneurship also at national level.

Amway is one of the world’s largest direct selling businesses that has put entrepreneurship promotion at the heart of its organization, and was one of the promoters of the 50+ Platform.