In recent years, more and more young people have been looking to start their own business. This increased desire for self-sufficiency has been fueled by two significant developments: 1. The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic repercussions have left many young people with dire job prospects, forcing them to look into alternative career paths. 2. The increasing popularity of online businesses and social media seems to have made entrepreneurship more accessible than ever, with many young people, particularly Gen-Z, starting online ‘side hustles’.
Seeing as this is what the future holds, it is time for schools to change their approach to education and prepare 21st century students to thrive in this ever-changing world we live in.
How schools can promote and support entrepreneurship
There are many ways in which schools can promote entrepreneurship and support students to develop the knowledge and experience they need to become entrepreneurs in the future.
Here are a few simple and relatively easy-to-implement ideas that schools could take on board. Most of them are also relevant for higher education.
- Invite entrepreneurs to talk to students about their journeys. It is important that entrepreneurs highlight not only their successes but also what it took to get them there, the challenges they have faced and the failures that they have experienced. The aim is not to romanticise entrepreneurship but to show students the ups of downs of becoming an entrepreneur.
- Promote entrepreneurship contests or business fairs, where students can create and manage a business for a short period of time and sell products/services to other students and, potentially, to the broader school community.
- Promote work experience or shadowing programmes, where students spend a few days working in a small business (rather than big companies) side-by-side with the entrepreneurs themselves where possible, to learn more about the routine, challenges and achievements of running a small business. Link theoretical content to entrepreneurship and business management where possible. For example, in maths, get students to calculate a business cashflow to practice basic mathematical operations.
But entrepreneurship education should not only cover hard management skills. Even more important are soft skills and competencies which entrepreneurs need to succeed in a world that is becoming more and more competitive.
Developing entrepreneurial soft skills such as innovation, communication, networking, and negotiation will make a huge difference in student’s life, whether they become entrepreneurs in the future or decide to go down the route of formal employment.
By implementing some of the ideas above, schools can play a crucial role in educating the next generation of entrepreneurs who have the skills they need to succeed and contribute to the economy and local development.
By Youth Business International (YBI)