Magazine article Techniques

Entrepreneurship Empowers Students with Career Readiness

Magazine article Techniques

Entrepreneurship Empowers Students with Career Readiness

Article excerpt

Entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking are essential for economic survival as innovation and technological advancements continue to replace basic, entry-level employment opportunities. The global economy as a whole will benefit from the development of entrepreneurial skills in youth to address such critical issues as the nearly 75 million unemployed youth around the world (ILO, Global Employment Trends for Youth, 2012), and the oft-noted misalignment between education and employers' needs (UNESCO, Youth and Skills: Putting Education to Work, 2012). Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial thinkers are seen as the critical components to jump-start local and national economies and to generate the jobs that will stimulate growth (The EY G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer, 2013). An entrepreneurial citizenry will have wide impacts on communities and the global economy by fostering business creation and developing a strong, engaged workforce, more fiscally responsible citizens and more committed individuals who take ownership in solving community challenges.

It is increasingly important for youth to acquire entrepreneurial skills to address both the needs of business startups and the employment gap. Students must learn how to incorporate innovation, design thinking and lean startup practices into their skills portfolio to compete in a constantly changing workforce. The ability to adapt, to be flexible and to take smart risks, are no longer exclusive to the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. To lead successful lives, every student needs to acquire entrepreneurial skills and behaviors to navigate the future.

Entrepreneurship Education Lacking in Schools' Curriculum

Every two years, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) conducts a study of alumni-students who have completed one or more NFTE courses-to analyze their paths beyond high school and college. In 2016, WestEd, a research and development agency, conducted the alumni study and discovered a couple of interesting data points:

* 91% of NFTE students who graduated from college completed a four-year degree

* 89% of NFTE students reported that NFTE contributed to their career-readiness, including 33% who directly stated that they gained the ?knowledge, technical skills and/or competence required for a job/career?

* 25% of NFTE students started a business, with 9% employing six or more people

NFTE 2016 Alumni Survey Findings, WestEd

This data offers indicators of the impact that entrepreneurship education can have on high school students from underserved communities. These students can learn entrepreneurial skills and behaviors that are highly applicable and can contribute to their future success.

So why isn't the teaching of entrepreneurship embedded in the core of middle and high school education? The challenge-besides the focus on core reading and mathematics-is that entrepreneurship is traditionally considered to be a gift possessed by a few rather than an empowering, broad-based skill set that can be cultivated in all students. The reality is that every student possesses innate entrepreneurial skills. The current limitation on entrepreneurship in schools constricts the potential for youth to develop a powerful portfolio of career-ready skills which NFTE calls the Entrepreneurial Mindset.

Developing the Entrepreneurial Mindset

NFTE's definition of the Entrepreneurial Mindset is the activation of a set of skills, behaviors and attitudes that reflect 21st century and entrepreneurial skills, including creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, self-reliance and initiative, and comfort with risk. The eight domains of the Entrepreneurial Mindset are critical factors for student success in the 21st century and beyond:

Research shows that:

* An entrepreneurial mindset is valued by employers. Entrepreneurial skills are employment skills, especially in today's innovation economy.

* An entrepreneurial mindset boosts educational attainment and performance. …

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