Britain’s Got Ambition

Virgin Media & Enterprise UK team up to unlock the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit

As the country rides the recession wave, research from Virgin Media has found that a quarter (24%) of young Britons say their dream job would be to run their own business, but worries about having the right contacts or experience are stopping many from achieving their ambitions (23% say this is the biggest barrier). The new report analysed the inspirations and barriers facing 18-30 year olds in Britain today and identified a huge level of entrepreneurial aspiration amongst young people, even in the current financial climate.

Today’s report marks the launch of Virgin Media Pioneers, a new initiative from Virgin Media and Enterprise UK, which brings together entrepreneurs and established business experts in an innovative online community. By connecting young entrepreneurial talent to a network of peer support and giving them access to the UK’s best business brains, Virgin Media Pioneers will help the UK’s aspiring young entrepreneurs overcome these barriers and close the gap between the number of young people with a great idea and those who are able to make it happen.

Role Models

According to the research, Sir Alan Sugar topped the poll (with 37%) as the celebrity young people would most want to take career tips or advice from. Whilst Stephen Fry scored highly amongst young males (23%), Simon Cowell was much more appealing to the ladies (19%). When it comes to a role model closer to home, a third (31%) of young Brits admit that their mum is their biggest inspiration.


Despite often being pilloried in the media for being apathetic and unmotivated, the report showed a determined and hopeful side to the 18-30 generation. With only six percent currently doing their dream job, there is huge potential to create a more inspired workforce. A quarter of young Brits (25%) are currently unhappy with their job or educational circumstances and almost two thirds (63%) of those feel they could be making much more of their skills or interests. Among those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, the trend is even more apparent – the feeling of dissatisfaction increases to 35% in this group.


When it comes to measuring success, young Brits are divided by their priorities. Whilst the vast majority (71%) of dissatisfied 18-24 year olds say they are unhappy due to their limited cash flow, two thirds (66%) of frustrated 25-30 year olds don’t feel their skills are being put to the best use. The knock-on effects of recent reality TV shows appear to be making stardom less appealing, with only two% of young Brits believing that becoming famous is a true mark of success. Instead, young Brits are more grounded as they consider, in order to be successful, they need to have a good work-life balance (70%), closely followed by having enough money to do what they want (69%) and doing an enjoyable job (68%).


The report shows that money plays a vital role in a young Brit’s life. Whilst a lack of money is believed to be a barrier for realising their ambitions (20%), having enough money is also considered a key mark of success (69%). Two fifths (41%) of young Brits are already demonstrating entrepreneurial behaviour, such as selling things on eBay and similar channels (22%). But it is frugal young women who acknowledge that they do this because they like or need the extra income (59%), whilst more carefree young men admit it is because they simply enjoy doing it (57%).

Virgin Media Pioneers aims to inspire and enable young Brits, bringing together entrepreneurs and established business experts in a new online community. By connecting young entrepreneurial talent to a network of peer support, entrepreneurial contacts and expert business advice, Virgin Media Pioneers aims to help build better businesses and close the gap between the number of young people with a great idea and those who are able to make it happen.

Neil Berkett, chief executive at Virgin Media, said:

“The digital world can open up new opportunities and experiences for people from all backgrounds and, as a brand founded in entrepreneurial ambition, our partnership with Enterprise UK will help create an environment that supports the needs of all potential entrepreneurs. Today’s report suggests that there is currently a tremendous amount of ambitious young people in the UK, who are looking for their first step on the entrepreneurial ladder. With Virgin Media Pioneers, we will put young people at the heart of UK entrepreneurship.”

Scott Cain, deputy chief executive of Enterprise UK, said:

“Taking the support network online makes it accessible wherever aspiring entrepreneurs are and whenever they need it. Opening up a world of business contacts and support will enable young entrepreneurs to take the first, second and every step along the journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Supported by skills development sessions and off line networking events, Virgin Media Pioneers will make a real difference to young entrepreneurs throughout the UK.”

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