Why is it Necessary to Cultivate Entrepreneurship in Young Minds
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The recently published McKinsey Report: ‘Delivering for Citizens’ (June 2018) shows that 75m young people worldwide are unemployed, that even in advanced economies two-thirds of all households saw their incomes stall or fall between 2005 and 2014, that gender inequality remains persistently high in many countries and that the proportion of the world’s population living in urban areas is projected to rise from 54% in 2014 to 66% by 2050. We also observe that governments are struggling to respond to these trends. It seems that radical transformation is steered by deeply committed leaders often at a local level. Change is anchored in communities where a smaller range of initiatives and objectives can be focused on. So, the challenge is where do these leaders come from?
Thus, the idea of integrating entrepreneurship into the education system has become a popular idea within many countries. The reasons why this is so are many:
Economic advantages: The belief that a country’s economic success and development will be enhanced by a better entrepreneurial understanding amongst our future workforce. A relationship is suggested that more entrepreneurial ‘capital’ (understandings and actions) leads to higher levels of economic output and productivity. One can look to the fast growth of the IT industry in India, becoming a major world force, as an example of this trend.
Societal improvement: The idea that with such understandings many social issues can be solved such as unemployment (due to the creation of more jobs) and urban development. A country’s infrastructure logically improves as a necessity to support economic growth. Entrepreneurs can change the way we live and work. If successful, a revolutionary movement may improve our standard of living as we break away from traditional ‘ways of being’ to embrace new technologies and a more fluid working life. Note the wonderful impact that Bill Gates has made in the USA to finance improvements in schools and communities through his success with Microsoft. Successful entrepreneurs care about others because the global world means that interconnectedness is normal. Even more, they have a responsibility to the community within which they reside.
Citizenship: The notion that entrepreneurship improves the political understanding of young people as future voters in a vibrant and fast-paced democracy leading to greater equality and opportunities. The interesting idea is that we may see the devolution of big companies with more responsibility being passed to individuals with everyone becoming ‘change agents’ in their own locations. It may even lead to greater gender equality also.
Classroom learning: That theoretical aspect of education can be improved with the experience of entrepreneurial activities and concepts that link learning to the real world. Education, therefore, is relevant, current and it matters to students
Simply put, an entrepreneurial education offers the potentials for the personal and community growth necessary for the 21st Century.
So, how can schools cultivate such an entrepreneurial spirit and understanding in young minds?
The answer is two-fold:
Identify the skills and attributes that encourage such understandings and infuse them into all areas of the school curriculum.
Teach entrepreneurship as a discrete activity through specially designed curriculum programmes.
Together these give the experiential constructive approach required to foster skill development and the theoretical understanding that underpins this so that students have the opportunity to come up with original ideas in response to identified needs and shortfalls. The identified skills include: taking initiative, intuitive decision making, making things happen, networking, identifying opportunities, creative problem solving, innovating, strategic thinking and personal effectiveness (from ‘Enterprise and Entrepreneurship education 2012 QAA p16). Underpinning this is the recognition that communication is one of the most important steps to success. This includes both listening and communicating your own thoughts. Here at GICLM, our students have entrepreneurial studies as part of their curriculum. We use a successful external trainer to run Young Innovator Challenges and weekly structured workshops that focus on articulating all these areas in practical scenarios. We have found that personal ‘reflection’ is a key way in which young people can make great progress by looking firstly at their own attributes and then developing into team collaboration and dynamics.
At its core is a belief that being entrepreneurial is not necessarily about making money. Rather, it is a human mindset that develops personality and social identity, investigates personal ambitions and goals, enhances confidence and resilience, encourages self-discipline and organisation, allows reflection on one’s own motivations, is realistic in noting uncertainties and risks and ultimately is about developing an ethical awareness for the future. Thus, it is an education of the mind that must be applied in all aspects of education. A sense of enterprise and opportunity creation is intrinsic to education. We are educating mathematical, scientific, historical, artistic entrepreneurs so that they can excel in their own fields.
In conclusion, cultivating a young entrepreneurial mind is moving from passive learning to problem-solving and active engagement. And, one of the best ways of doing this is to link it to a strong programme of community service where students are supported to go ‘beyond their comfort zone’ and create small but significant projects that have genuine and lasting effects towards those who are less advantaged in life. Entrepreneurial spirit can change society, and indeed it should do, for the betterment of all in society.