Written by Cormac Reynolds, a Clonlara School guest blogger (***Clonlara School does not endorse or recommend any product/service in connection with this author***)
They say entrepreneurs are born and not taught, they also say that about athletes, mathematicians and any other person with a specialist application you can think of. However, like any of the aforementioned, if a person is not given an opportunity to learn, receive support or are mentored it greatly limits the chances of them fulfilling their promise.
Entrepreneurship education gives students a theoretical and also a practical basis to become entrepreneurs. One of the best ways to learn to be an entrepreneur is to listen to the stories of previous entrepreneurs. They’re failures; successes and how they got there are all part and parcel of learning the skills it takes to be an entrepreneur.
Even if people are born to be entrepreneurs, there is no innate way that they can write a business plan for start-up finance or calculate risks. Entrepreneurship education provides this academic area and gives children the skills to increase their chances of becoming successful entrepreneurs. These skills are a necessity and entrepreneurship education helps.
Creates Student Interest
Enterprise also has a different side to it. There is a certain amount of street smarts or even wheeling and dealing with being an entrepreneur. Many children who lose interest in mainstream subjects find that this element of street smarts and dare we say even edginess is of interest. It encourages children to get excited, to take an interest and also shows them the value of other subjects. Children soon learn that if they want to succeed as entrepreneurs they need to pay attention and that their whole education is of worth. They understand they need to read, write and do arithmetic to give themselves the best opportunity as entrepreneurs.
For children from poorer backgrounds, entrepreneurship shows them a way out of poverty and allows them to take control of their own destiny in a lot of ways. This can turn the most academically disinterested child into one with a sense of purpose. It allows children a sense of ownership and allows them to make sensible decisions about their future.
This awareness of career and entrepreneurial options and ‘skilling up’ creates entrepreneurs and in turn it helps society. With over 50% of the UK employment and UK businesses being of the small and medium enterprise nature, more successful entrepreneurs makes for more successful businesses, more jobs and a wealthier country.
The Wealth Gap
It also helps to bridge the wealth gap and income inequality. There is no denying that this disparity in wealth historically has caused riots, civil unrest and revolution. With President Barack Obama saying income inequality is the ‘defining issue of our time’, teaching entrepreneurship education at school is a way to level the playing field and close the gap in income.
One of the other big issues we currently face because of the financial crisis is the level of youth unemployment in the Western World. Youth unemployment is anything from 10% in some countries to 50% in countries such as Spain. This has short term and long term implications for people who not only have a lack of money, but in turn are shown to have a lack of worth. There are also a whole range of other negative societal factors that are attributed to joblessness.
Through teaching enterprise at school and offering entrepreneurship education, countries place the skills on people’s hands. Instead of leaving university into a degree saturated market, where you rely on others for a job, young people will have the skills to start their own.
Of course, if there is no option for learning enterprise at schools there are alternatives in the shape form of internships – something to keep older children occupied in the summer time or during longer breaks.
Alternatively, summer schools can benefit children and there are all sorts of schools that offer this education. London, Cambridge and Oxford summer school are very popular in the UK for this reason, with many students taking classes before university or even in earlier years.
However, whether enterprise should be thought as part of education remains to be seen.
Cormac Reynolds writes for UK company www.oxfordsummercourses.com and has written on a number of education blogs across the web.