Despite the buzz being generated about startups in downtown Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo, it is a shortage of new business starts that’s slowing America’s recovery.
That’s was the view from Mike Soules, CEO of Corwin Management, a unit of Thousand Oaks-based Sage Publications.
He joined former Cheers star John Ratzenberger, Go-Biz Director Kish Rajan and Limoneira Co. CEO Harold Edwards at the city of Ventura’s Jobs For Our Future summit at Ventura College on Sept. 11.
Soules said that since the early 2000s, net new business starts have fallen by 28 percent compared to the previous two decades, reducing the ranks of small businesses with payrolls to around 3 million.
For millennials, the numbers are even worse, with new business starts by young adults down around 35 percent. At the same time, millennials are going to work for big corporations in larger numbers as a percent of the workforce, he said.
“The real challenge” to faster economic growth “is a lack of small business starts,” he said.
In the coming years, larger companies will be eager to swoop up college graduates as the nation faces a gap of 1.5 million jobs that will be required to replace aging baby boomers. Management and engineering jobs will be in highest demand.
Although many boomers have delayed retirement due to the recession they are starting to step down in larger numbers, Soules, said, adding that one solution would be to improve graduation rates at area high schools.
Ratzenberger, a relentless advocate for more skills training and fairer competition with China and others, made a passionate please for holding students to higher standards. Graduation ceremonies for kindergarten are joke, he said because “kids get trophies for not pooping in their pants.”
He said he favored a return to the days when kids were assigned chores and college students spent summers pounding nails and doing manual labor. “You have to earn your gifts,” he said.