This oped originally ran in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on 12/1/2011.
In 2006, Mark Anderson and Steven Horvath started MASTEQ, a machine shop in suburban Milwaukee that designs and manufactures tooling for foundries. Anderson was 28 at the time. Before starting the company, Anderson received instruction as part of a registered apprenticeship program at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
He worked his way up through the ranks as a computer-based designer, where he met Horvath, who served as his boss and a mentor. The two decided to go into business together, and today they employ six people and have plans to expand in 2012.
We need to encourage more young people in Wisconsin and throughout the country to follow in Anderson's and Horvath's footsteps by learning a trade and becoming entrepreneurs.
I am in Milwaukee on Thursday for an event in the Small Business Administration's Young Entrepreneurs Series. At events across the country, young entrepreneurs and Obama administration officials have engaged in a discussion about how and why the Obama administration is supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs.
To further support young entrepreneurship, the SBA and the Department of Labor are announcing the Start Young Initiative, a new partnership to bring entrepreneurship education to the young people enrolled in the Labor Department's Job Corps. Start Young will run as a pilot program in three cities; Milwaukee is being considered as a potential site.
As part of the Start Young Initiative, the SBA will work with our network of resource partners on a specialized entrepreneurship training curriculum. Job Corps students receive academic and technical training that helps them transition into the workforce, higher education or the military. Now, they will be able to make the transition into entrepreneurship as well.
We can also help young entrepreneurs by passing the American Jobs Act and extending and expanding the payroll tax cut that has given tax breaks to millions of families across the country this year. The American Jobs Act will also cut payroll taxes for small employers, giving 110,000 businesses in Wisconsin more money to invest and hire. We can't wait to give young Americans - both entrepreneurs and their employees - the tools they need to get our economy going.
Young people need tools like the Start Young Initiative and the American Jobs Act to grow their businesses and hire their peers. Not only will they create jobs and combat the high unemployment rate among America's youth, but they will also help America continue to out-compete and out-innovate in the 21st century.
Why are apprenticeship and entrepreneurship so important?
We live in an era when success is not necessarily measured by working your way up the corporate ladder. Young Americans are looking to entrepreneurship as a way to create jobs - for themselves and for others.
Entrepreneurship can take many forms. There is a great opportunity in Milwaukee to inspire even more entrepreneurs in the skilled trades, such as Anderson and Horvath. As young people enter trades, we need to help them take risks and strike out on their own.
There are success stories like theirs waiting to happen here in Wisconsin and across America. Our economy depends on young people's entrepreneurial spirit. As the president has said, "The story of America's success is written by America's entrepreneurs." Let's start writing.