Over half of UK entrepreneurs want enterprise education to be compulsory in schools and colleges

By Claire West

Britain risks not delivering an ‘enterprise-led recovery’ unless it urgently shakes up its education system to deliver a new generation of entrepreneurially minded young people.

This is the claim of new research released today by Enterprise UK and carried out by YouGov for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010 (15-21 November).

The research claims that entrepreneurs believe that the young could be let down without a focus on:

NEW SKILLS: 54% of entrepreneurs believe that enterprise education should be made mandatory in the national curriculum

CORPORATE CONNECTIONS: 65% of UK entrepreneurs back the call for greater corporate investment in educating the next generation of entrepreneurs

NEW TEACHER TRAINING: A lack of entrepreneurial acumen among teachers is the number one issue that entrepreneurs feel schools should address

AWARENESS: There is a lack of information about entrepreneurship from careers services.

The findings are contained in Make a Job, Don’t Take a Job: Why the time is now for a new entrepreneurial decade. The report includes a poll of over 1,000 UK entrepreneurs and is the first test of entrepreneur sentiment since the Prime Minister’s ‘doers and grafters’ speech at the Conservative Party Conference in October.

The report marks the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week, which aims to inspire young people and confront ambition diminishing myths, including the claim that entrepreneurs are born and not made.

Peter Jones, of Dragons’ Den and Chairman of Enterprise UK, says:
“This research highlights the crucial importance of delivering entrepreneurial know-how in our schools and colleges. Central to that is shattering myths that hold people back from realising their potential. Enterprise education is an important antidote to the misleading idea that entrepreneurs are born and not made. Business skills can be taught and this research shows that entrepreneurs believe that the sooner that these essential life skills are taught the better.”

During the week Enterprise UK will also release new analysis of research from Aston Business School2, which shows that enterprise education doubles the likelihood of someone starting their own business.

The findings also show that one in three young people don’t start up because they don’t have the support and contacts to help.

Tom Bewick, Chief Executive of Enterprise UK, says:
Education is critical to entrepreneurship. But, more schools and colleges still need to support entrepreneurship.

“If we are serious about making this the most entrepreneurial decade in our history, we must create the conditions to help more entrepreneurs get started as well as helping existing businesses to grow.

“Without the active engagement of college leaders and staff, the UK will continue to fall behind our international competitors in terms of the number of young business owners. The number one challenge for any educator in the next decade is simply this: how do I help my students make a job, rather than just take a job?

“Global Entrepreneurship Week will see thousands of events across the UK aimed at stimulating entrepreneurship in communities, businesses, schools, colleges and universities and helping new businesses get advice, get started and grow.”

Global Entrepreneurship Week will see over 26,000 students from over 400 schools and colleges take part in the Enterprise UK Education Challenge.

Between 1,000 and 1,500 new business ideas will be created during the week by 5,200 teams of 16-19 year olds. The best 15 teams will win four weeks mentoring from some of the best British entrepreneurs working with Enterprise UK, and will be linked to their local market and a local trader through the NMTF (National Market Traders Federation).