Byline: Dylan Jones-Evans
LAST WEEK the former Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain, made his first speech to the House of Commons since his resignation earlier this year. Interestingly enough, it was on the economy in Wales and, significantly, on the importance of reducing the dependency on the public sector and growing the business sector.
That is clearly a debate for another day but another point which he made which caught my eye was his call for schools, colleges and universities to promote entrepreneurship among young people.
Having been involved in entrepreneurship research and teaching for nearly20years, I can safely say that despite considerable funding by the Entrepreneurship Action Plan, enterprise education is still not being taken seriously within Wales.
Internationally acclaimed programmes such as Young Enterprise, which are supported strongly in other countries around the world, are woefully under funded by the Assembly Government. Small specialist companies in Wales who help to develop enterprising school pupils across the UK have been under-utilised by policy makers at a local and national level in the delivery of initiatives to increase vital entrepreneurial skills. Successful local schemes, such as Llwyddo'n Lleol in Gwynedd, have been ignored by policymakers in Cardiff Bay and there are just two higher education institutions having professors of entrepreneurship on their books in Wales.
These are just some examples of where a lack of joined up thinking is having a real effect on the capability to develop enterprise education within Wales. Perhaps the lack of focus by the Assembly over this matter can best be summed up by the fact that the "Dynamo" project, set up by the Assembly to promote enterprise education, had its website last updated over 16 months ago! The annual study of enterprise in Wales - the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) - also suggests that much remains to be done in terms of ensuring that there is a coherent programme of support for developing young people within enterprise in Wales.
For example, nine out of a 100 young people say that they intend to start a new business in the next three years but only three will actually do so.
Therefore, somewhere along the way, the high level of entrepreneurial intention fails to be converted into real entrepreneurial activity, with consequences for the future prosperity of this nation.
Of course, many will say that enterprise is something that you are born with and that it cannot be taught to anyone, but enterprise education is more than about just starting a business. …