Promoting entrepreneurship to kids

Tony Featherstone writes in the Brisbane Times:

As much as I hate to say it, Australia is being left for dead by other countries that are fostering an enterprise culture among young people and grooming their next generation of entrepreneurs and small business owners through the school system.

As we teach kids about general business, mostly in secondary school, the United Kingdom is considering recommendations to teach children as young as five to think up a micro-enterprise as part of reforms to change attitudes towards self-employment. …

The Enterprise for All Report, released this month in the UK, was a joy to read. The Venture has argued for years primary schools should teach students about business creativity; that secondary schools should teach innovation; and that universities should teach commercialisation skills. And that enterprise teaching should be embedded into all levels of the education system

But our politicians are still getting their heads around small business, let alone entrepreneurship, which must be taught as early as possible.

The report was stunning in its scope. Recommendations included embedding enterprise teaching in new curriculum materials and exams at school; giving teachers business experience as part of continuous development programs; and creating a national network of volunteer “ enterprise advisers” to liaise with schools.

Universities would offer an elective enterprise module to every student – something I have long argued for.

Why should entrepreneurship only be taught as a “business” subject when there are potential entrepreneurs across all disciplines? Why should a nurse, lawyer, engineer or arts student with incredible entrepreneurial potential be denied this type of learning, simply because he or she does not study business? It’s an antiquated approach.

The UK report sounds great. This is something the NZ Government should look at as a priority.

Other recommendations impress. The Fiver program, where primary school students get a month to do something enterprising with their five-pound pledge is a favourite. What a great way to get kids creating for-profit or social ideas, and to plant the self-employment seed.

Creating an electronic digital passport for students to record enterprise activity is another of the report’s good idea. A student’s academic achievements are recorded, so why not their enterprise achievements and experience? Forward-thinking employers would value that information.

Great idea.

The Enterprise for All Report should be mandatory reading for our politicians. They need to know other countries have big plans to adapt their education systems, from primary schools to university, to develop a stronger culture of enterprise and self-employment.  

The report is here. This looks like a great area for Steven Joyce to champion.

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