Entrepreneurship is undeniably a significant asset for students and young adults. More than hard skills as experience and technical knowledge, entrepreneurship has an intrinsic high dimension of creativity, self building, confidence and self realisation (Quality Assurance Agency 2012). A European Commission report on the effects and impact of entrepreneurship programmes in higher education stated: “Entrepreneurship education has a positive impact on the entrepreneurial mindset of young people, their intentions towards entrepreneurship, their employability and finally on their role in society and the economy.”(EC 2012)
Entrepreneurship as extra-curriculum activity might increasingly become critical for the professional development and students’ careers. As noted in High Fliers Research (2011), nearly two-thirds of recruiters warn that graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes.
Sir Tim Wilson’s review of university-business collaboration stated “Networking between universities and the business community is a critical component of an efficient innovation ecosystem. There are several established networking tools at national and regional levels that create links between universities, business and research technology organisations. These mechanisms need to be constantly evaluated, reviewed and updated as media innovations change communications capability and expectation.” (Wilson 2012)
The National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE) has the potential to be a major contributor to the development of entrepreneurialism amongst our student body. It deserves support from business sponsors, universities and government in promoting entrepreneurship. Such support should be conditional on NACUE retaining its close connectivity student entrepreneurial societies, and its active engagement in the Enterprise Alliance.” (Wilson 2012).
The World Economic Forum (2011) suggested four global challenges; Transform the Educational System, Build the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, Strive for Effective Outcomes and Impact and Leverage Technology as an Enabler. The growth and advancement of entrepreneurship have been considered objectives for many EU and Member State policies over numerous years, and have grown in prominence over time. The European Commission and individual Member States have started to adopt a range of actions, including driving the build up of a more prominent culture of ‘entrepreneurial mindsets’ amongst European citizens, predominantly young people. This was partnered with the view that all students should have access to entrepreneurship education.
To make sure ‘entrepreneurship education’ does not become another extra-curricular ‘add on’ there needs to be certain changes that are made a necessity, and the following ‘actions’ are taken from McCoshan (2010) which will ensure they become an essential part of the curriculum:
- Changes in teaching methods: greater use of experiential learning and a new coach/moderator role for teachers which helps students to become more independent and to take the initiative in their education;
- Changes in the education context, which takes students out of the classroom into the local community and real businesses, and which establishes less hierarchical relationships within schools;
- A key role for governments: only they can bring about the required step change in the spread and quality of entrepreneurship education.
Therefore, an ‘education in entrepreneurship’ needs to go through a conceptual shift from an education in ‘how to run a business’ to how to achieve competency in all areas of the curriculum and be able to apply entrepreneurial thinking into all those areas.
The UK Quality Assurance Agency (2012) for Higher Education has also published ‘guidance’ on the incorporation of Entrepreneurship in every teaching curriculum, qualifying this action as imperative. They acknowledged the need for entrepreneurship to enhance education across the curriculum (Quality Assurance Agency 2012).
Entrepreneurship as extra-curriculum activity might increasingly become critical for the professional development and students’ careers. As noted in High Fliers Research (2011):“Nearly two-thirds of recruiters warn that graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes”.
The Royal Bank of Scotland Inspiring Enterprise report 2012 shows that across almost all industrialised countries, unemployment rates are highest among people just out of college, despite the international evidence that shows that young people have a lot of entrepreneurial potential. More awareness of entrepreneurship and engaging with entrepreneurship in education and training will inspire many young people (RBS 2012).
This is why the development of self help, peer led groups provides an important strategy for developing both employability and enterprise skills and should be incorporated into the national and every education institution enterprise strategy.