Enterprise and entrepreneurship education has never been more important. Growing youth populations, coupled with rising youth unemployment in many countries, is putting greater emphasis on job creation and enterprising behaviour within employment. Technological developments are reshaping our workplaces and changing how businesses are operated, while the global nature of business means more young people will have jobs crossing different continents and sectors. It is therefore important we equip future generations with the skills and mindsets they need to navigate a world of work we can’t yet envisage.
Preparing learners for the future
The future employability of young people will depend heavily on how teaching and learning react to these changing needs. Learners will need to be innovative, adaptive, resilient and flexible to navigate an ever evolving labour market.
In recent years there has been significant growth in enterprise education in the UK and other countries as a result of shifts in national education policies. Embedding entrepreneurship education in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) can be an important vehicle for ensuring learners are prepared for life beyond their education institutions.
Enterprising mindsets coupled with the skills gained through TVET could be the perfect recipe to support the future employability of learners. Entrepreneurship education will make young people more employable and more ‘intrapreneurial’ in their work within existing organisations, across the social, public and private sectors.
The benefits of entrepreneurship education
As securing and creating employment becomes a key priority for learners and governments for the foreseeable future, the growth of economies around the world will be supported by entrepreneurial thinking and enterprise from the next generation.
According to evidence from the European Commission, entrepreneurship education can positively impact on local labour markets and economies
(Entrepreneurship Education: A Guide for Educators, 2014). Investing in entrepreneurship education is one of the highest return investments in Europe, with the same research showing that students who receive enterprise education are three to six times more likely to start a business in the future.
Learners are at the core of teaching, and entrepreneurship education can equip them with an entrepreneurial mindset, which can lead to greater involvement and engagement across core studies. Learning can be more enjoyable when embedded in real-life examples and when individuals are given the opportunity to take ownership of their own success.
Through entrepreneurship activities, learners can gain key entrepreneurial skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, risk-taking and teamwork. Entrepreneurship can offer alternative pathways for young people, improving their skills, employability and life chances, while supporting wider economic and social development.
Embedding entrepreneurship education
Effective entrepreneurship education relies on both teachers and the culture of teaching institutions. Teachers need a broad range of competencies to successfully embed entrepreneurial education within the curriculum, and this can be supported by a school environment where risk is encouraged and where employment as an outcome of learning is a priority. Entrepreneurship teaching doesn’t provide answers, but supports learners to identify the right questions. It should look to push boundaries, encourage learners to think creatively and be confident enough in their own ability to take the risks necessary to succeed. Creative environments must also support failure. Mistakes can often prove to be the greatest lessons.
The future is dependent on the next generations, and high-quality teaching that incorporates entrepreneurship will be an essential part of their success. The active minds of tomorrow are reliant on the guidance and support of the teachers today, who will open the world of possibilities up to them.
The autumn edition of Vocational Education Exchange will focus on the role and importance of enterprise and entrepreneurship education. Throughout October, November and December we will share a range of comment pieces and best practice examples aimed to both inspire and spark discussion and debate in this important area of TVET.