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Governments across the world are working to close the gap between education and the workplace, enabling citizens to progress from one to the other, support economic growth, navigate changes to work practices and lead fulfilling lives. One common approach is to introduce enterprise and entrepreneurship education into the school, college and university experiences of young people to better prepare them for adulthood and work.
Entrepreneurial people are better employees and develop skills that are becoming increasingly in demand by employers. An entrepreneurial approach to learning is motivating for students, developing their self-esteem and a sense of purpose, and equips them with life skills that help them to become more positive contributors to society. Simply using the language of enterprise can benefit the aspirations of students. Most importantly, however, for enterprise education to really work effectively it needs to focus on each individual, and their individual potential to achieve.
What is enterprise education?
Enterprise education focuses on helping students develop entrepreneurial, life and employment skills to prepare them for life beyond school, usually with an emphasis on financial capability, enterprise capability, and economic and business understanding. Learning provides students the opportunity to identify, use and develop a range of skills and qualities that are generally recognised as being essential for the future workforce, as well as for anyone thinking about starting their own business.
Entrepreneurial skills gained by students through enterprise education include:
Entrepreneurial qualities students can develop through their enterprise education are:
Why enterprise education is important to students
Enterprise education provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to start a business, if they choose that route in the future, whilst also promoting this as an acceptable and alternative career option.
In addition to entrepreneurial skills, the aim is also to ensure that those who do choose to enter the workforce through more traditional paths are equipped with the soft skills employers are seeking.
Students gain new awareness and knowledge, together with the skills and qualities they need to confidently navigate the adult world, from tackling a job interview to planning a house purchase, from understanding more about the economy and society to being able to effectively manage every day financial budgeting.
Enterprise education programs are beneficial for students who struggle with traditional academic learning or those who don’t intend to pursue further study at tertiary level, offering an alternative learning model and the chance to learn hands-on skills for the workforce. Unlike normal academic learning, enterprise education is not so focused on pass or fail outcomes — students can learn from their failures as well as successes.
Enterprise education can provide the opportunity for students and their schools to work together with local businesses and to promote apprenticeships.
Through enterprise education students can develop their understanding of the concept of social enterprise and enterprise programmes can directly benefit local community organisations and charities.
Enterprise education can help people to become enterprising, resourceful, flexible citizens.
As an important footnote, undoubtedly schools benefit from enterprise education too! It stands to reason that if enterprise education offers new skills and qualities to students, in turn the students become more employable, university marketable and motivated students.
How to embed enterprise education into the curriculum
While not a new concept, more and more schools are looking at ways to incorporate enterprise education into the curriculum. Enterprise education programmes can be integrated into the curriculum, provided as extracurricular activities, run through external companies or offered as intensive ‘projects’ over a set amount of time (a day or week, for example).
Examples of enterprise education programmes that are already available in some schools include:
Tasks that ask students to come up with a creative solution to a problem or put together a proposal for a new product
Student-run businesses, stalls and events
Community service initiatives
Career programs that allow students to interact with industry professionals
Real-world applications for basic numeracy and literacy skills
Financial units focused on teaching students about budgeting, loans, interest rates, investment, calculating profit and loss, and so on.
For details of ICE’s own enterprise illumination programme which provides multiple options for delivery of enterprise education programmes both within and outside of the school and curriculum click here.
As well as specially orientated enterprise education activities and programmes, enterprise can also be woven through every lesson; research shows that an enterprising approach to teaching encourages pupils to be enterprising too. At the heart of an enterprising teaching style is:
Learning by doing
Facilitation of learning, rather than instruction
Team-orientated and problem solving activities
Combinations of activities that appeal to student’s different learning styles (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic).
This style of teaching enhances pupils’ engagement with their lessons, and can improve their classroom behaviour and performance.
To find out more about enterprise education please get in touch