Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

Enterprise Workshop: An Entrepreneurship Training Program in Australia

Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

Enterprise Workshop: An Entrepreneurship Training Program in Australia

Article excerpt


In the 1970s, the Australian Government became increasingly aware of the need for Australia to move from a resource-based economy to one based more on technology and skills. However, this could be accomplished only by training entrepreneurs who were capable of developing successful and innovative businesses.

Senator John Button, Federal Minister of Industry, Technology and Commerce has suggested that:

...many of our best inventions are lost to overseas concerns because Australians fail to exploit their industrial potential. If we are to capitalize on our ingenuity we must train entrepreneurs capable of developing and managing technologybased industries.

In response to this situation, the federal and state governments initiated the Enterprise Workshop scheme in 1979 to promote economic growth and job creation through new technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

The Enterprise Workshop idea was first proposed by Ralph Tobias, Head of the Technology Branch of the Department of Productivity. The format of the program was initially developed by Wayne Brown, Director of the Innovation Center at the University of Utah. Professor Brown was invited to be the first program director of the Enterprise Workshop, which was then known as the National Adventure Workshop in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The principal objective of the Enterprise Workshop program is to train entrepreneurs capable of developing and managing new technology-based ventures. Unlike the few mainly academic programs in entrepreneurship offered by several universities and colleges within their undergraduate and postgraduate degree curricula,' the Enterprise Workshop program is not a degree or academic credit program. It is oriented toward the provision of actual practical experience in developing quality business plans which are capable of implementation.

The Enterprise Workshop program, funded jointly by the government and the private sector, has now been established in every state and territory in Australia. The activities of the state and territory programs are coordinated nationally by Business Innovation Australia, an organization formed in 1985 to develop overall policy, and coordinate training and fund raising activities of each state and territory. This body also ensures uniformity of approach, and provides a national forum for the various states and territories to share their experiences.

Nature of the Enterprise Workshop Program

Central to the Enterprise Workshop's activities is a year-long part-time training program in business planning which begins in March and finishes in September or October each year. The program is oriented toward people with professional or business backgrounds who are usually engaged in full-time employment or business.

The Enterprise Workshop's training program is designed for two main categories of individuals:

* Those who now have their own businesses or are thinking about starting one. These individuals can improve their business planning skills through the workshops, especially when it comes to initiating new ventures. Most have had previous formal training in areas such as engineering, accounting, law, science or, marketing.

* Employees of a company which recommends a corporate entrepreneurial team to develop a new product or service for the company. Large companies such as Mayne Nickless Limited have participated in the program.

The details of the training program vary slightly from one state to another. Typically, it is divided into two phases, and consists of the following four elements:

(1) Seminar series. Prominent business people in Australia are invited to speak on a given topic and provide practical advice and case studies from their own experience. Participants gain insight into entrepreneurial development in Australia, the opportunities that are available, and ways of exploiting them. …

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