Why Aren’t We Teaching Entrepreneurial Skills At School?

I could never have become an entrepreneur. I’ve never had the interest nor motivation. That said, I wonder if I’d been introduced to entrepreneurship in my youth would things have been different? More than ever though, young people of today need to have not just an entrepreneurial mindset but critically the confidence, to create their own paths.

The world they’re growing up in is vastly different from the one I grew up in. There aren’t jobs for life. According to one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in a job that doesn’t even exist. If young people are to succeed, they’ll need to have an entrepreneurial spirit as well as the ability to deliver on it.

The Entrepreneurial Generation

Post-millennials, young people born after 1995, are set to be an entrepreneurial generation. According to a recent Nielsen study, about 54% of post-millennials indicated they wanted to start their own company. What is driving this? For a generation who has grown up in uncertain times and a financial crisis, it’s unsurprising. It’s a pragmatic approach to security and a way of recession proofing their jobs.

Orientated towards salary and security, post-millennials seem hungry for money. They have high regard for money earners and are drawn to YouTubers and Instagram creators who are paid and sponsored. Many even have a business centred Instagram accounts. Pretty cool huh?

It’s Time For A Mindset Shift

So why aren’t we teaching entrepreneurial skills at school? For me, it comes back to how we view education, and how we measure success. Much of the focus in schools is now on league tables, which are made up of exam results to the detriment of broader skill sets. Inquiry-based approaches, developing resilience and key entrepreneurial or employability skills are deemed important, but not essential. This is despite the fact that employers are seeing these skills as increasingly more desirable than technical skills, and more people are choosing to be entrepreneurs.

Teachers understand that students need to be innovative and enterprising, but often feel that they are constrained by the demands of their already overflowing curriculum. That’s where working with industry and local entrepreneurs, and the explicit teaching of entrepreneurial or employability skills comes in.

Industry Engagement And Explicit Teaching

Industry and local entrepreneurs provide the context and experience, and the explicit teaching of skills lay the foundation. The explicit teaching of skills need not be an onerous task and has cross-curricular applications. Resources like our series the 4Cs can help educators teach key entrepreneurial or employability skills to their students. Providing young people active learning opportunities at school and in their local communities will further help them develop these skills. This is a generation of social entrepreneurs, after all, so let’s use what we know about them, and the things they care about to make their learning experiences meaningful.

Right across the world more and more young people are standing up and challenging the status quo. Handfuls of teenagers are coming together and starting a movement to tackle things like political uncertainty, climate change, gun laws and equality. We need to foster this spirit in all our young people and encourage them to get involved and take the opportunities available to them. Getting students to engage and act should be our war cry. It all starts with knowing they have the ability to make a change, encouraging their entrepreneurial spirit and giving them the confidence to take action.

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Published on: February 25, 2020

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