Entrepreneurship should be Taught in Schools

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I am often met with raised eyebrows when I say I teach entrepreneurship.

“No!” “Surely not!” “You can’t teach that!”

…but I can. And I do. And Australia’s education system NEEDS TO for us to be globally relevant in today’s hyper-competitive business landscape.

I am moved to write this by two recent events. Aaron Birkby sent me this article identifying how “Australia is being left for dead by other countries that are fostering a enterprise culture among young people,” and a student wrote the following in a piece of assessment, reflecting on a session where Andrea Staines (former Qantas Executive and current Non-Executive Director of Aurizon and Goodstart Early Learning Centres) gave a talk to our class:

“Early in my career I often thought of innovation and entrepreneurship as innate abilities, something bestowed upon people at birth rather than skills to be learned or developed. This isn’t an isolated view. When I told a colleague I had enrolled in this course he questioned the validity of studying theories of management and claimed that the only valid way to learn how to manage people was to actually practice it. While I disagreed with his arguments I still had some reservations of how academic frameworks can be directly applied to the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation. The lecture from Andrea Staines completely removed these reservations and provided great practical examples of management theories, (particularly the work of Davis, Schoorman & Donaldson and Bower & Christensen) in action.”

Product life-cycles are shortening, information is everywhere, barriers to international trade have crumbled, crowdsourcing is turbocharging the commercialisation process, and incumbent businesses are constantly under attack from competitors they are not even aware exist.

We must prepare our workforce for this environment, and it must start at school: in Primary Schools, at High Schools, and at our leading Universities. Under commission by Google Australia in 2013, PWC authored The Startup Economy, identifying education as one of five critical factors in enabling the next generation of Australian industry. Our entrepreneurial intention is one of the highest in the world (19% of those interested in entrepreneurship actually embark on an entrepreneurial journey), but only 54% of Australian adults consider entrepreneurship to be an interesting career path….

This must change, and it will start in schools.

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