Entrepreneurship Everywhere: The Case for Entrepreneurship Education

The Catalyst, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

Entrepreneurship Everywhere: The Case for Entrepreneurship Education


Originally Published by the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Entrepreneurs are not "born," rather they "become" through the experiences of their lives. (Albert Shapiro, The Ohio State University). Through effective entrepreneurship education, people can access the skills and knowledge needed to start and grow a new business. But, entrepreneurship education does not just contribute to new business starts. Communities who embrace entrepreneurship education also find that students perform better in school, and that a school's overall performance also improves.

Yet despite these many benefits, few communities offer easy access to entrepreneurship education for youth or adults. At the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, our mission is to reverse these trends and ensure that entrepreneurship training is readily available to all who want or need it. This report makes the case for entrepreneurship education. It describes effective programs-based on the Consortium's National Content Standards-and presents a four-part plan for how the US can provide entrepreneurship education programs to all Americans. To move forward in this important work, we must:

* Make entrepreneurship education a formal part of the American curriculum in every school district and educational institution.

* Create a nationwide ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEK that focuses on entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship education at the national, state, and local levels.

* Finance an ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION INNOVATION FUND that provides seed funds to innovative educators and educational programs.

* Share information about entrepreneurship education and the creative programs that are emerging everywhere. The field of entrepreneurship education is booming! We need to share the effective practices that are already working.

If you ask a group of business executives to describe the key to their company's future success, you'll get a pretty consistent set of answers. While the terminology might differ, all of the answers call for a talented, competitive, skilled, creative, and entrepreneurial workforce.

A brief glimpse at recent blue ribbon reports on America's economy offers further confirmation that talented workers will be the key differentiator in America's 21st century economic success. For example, Innovate America, a report from the Council on Competitiveness's National Innovation Initiative identifies talent as "the nation's innovation asset."

What do they mean by talent? It's not enough to simply be smart. Instead, we need to nurture a new generation of innovators who have key skills in areas like science and engineering, but who are also able to collaborate with others and to act in the face of new opportunities. In other words, we need innovators who combine skill with an entrepreneurial mindset.

BUILDING THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS: OUR CHALLENGE

America's business, education and political leaders have reached a strong consensus on the need for a talented workforce. Unfortunately, they have also reached a consensus that our current educational system fails to provide the necessary foundations for such a workforce. Shelves of reports recognizing the importance of a talented work force are balanced by an even larger shelf load bemoaning our inability to develop just such a workforce. Consider the recent comments of Microsoft's Bill Gates, when asked to comment on the state of American high schools (address to National Summit on High Schools, 2/26/05):

Training the workforce of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today's computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. It's the wrong tool for the times . . . . When I compare our high schools to what I see when I'm traveling abroad, I am terrified for our workforce of tomorrow.

As a nation, we have responded to these challenges through a variety of efforts including charter schools, the No Child Left Behind Act, and a whole host of initiatives to improve performance and increase accountability. …

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