Teaching youth enterprise instils confidence for life

By Claire McCartney, CIPD Resourcing and Talent Adviser,  @CMcCartneyCIPD

 Last week we were delighted to launch our new research written by myself and Dianah Worman exploring the policy, educational and practical provisions needed to effectively support a new generation of young entrepreneurs.

We had a really useful debate at our launch event in central London with contributions from the CIPD's Peter Cheese, Young Enterprise's Michael Mercieca and RSA's Benedict Dellot and we were all inspired by an amazing panel of award-winning young entrepreneurs - Samuel Kasumu, Amie Samba and Cicely Elliott-Berry whose businesses range from sports mentoring to setting up a brewery.  The CIPD research was also featured in an exclusive article in The Guardian yesterday. 

 While setting up your own business is certainly not the easiest of options available to young people, our research suggests that the desire to do something creative, take control and be your own boss are all factors that make it particularly attractive to the younger demographic, with many young entrepreneurs tapping into retail, IT and app gaps in the market.

 Our research calls for a greater focus on enterprise education as part of the national curriculum in secondary schools to support this activity and help to make it more sustainable. This is not just about teaching enterprise in specific areas such as business studies but enabling and supporting an enterprising mindset for young people across all subjects and aspects of school life.

 This is so important because developing an enterprising mindset instils much needed resilience and breeds confidence for life. And it’s not just the self-employed that need to develop their entrepreneurial skills. Increasingly organisations are looking for inside entrepreneurs (or “intrapreneurs”) to help develop their businesses and reconnect to their entrepreneurial roots. Organisations such as Enterprise Rent-a-Car are now looking for entrepreneurial and leadership skills over academic attainment, for example.

 So what more needs to be done in the area of enterprise education? Our debate pointed to a real need for sustainable cross-party thinking on this issue. Young people have huge potential, much of which can be knocked out of them in schools if they are not academically gifted. So there is a real need to move away from narrow thinking around purely raising academic standards to educating young people on the different future work routes available to them, including apprenticeships, trade professions and enterprise - this links well to the CIPD's Learning to Work programme.

We need to raise head teachers' and subject teachers' awareness of these options, as well as career professionals in general, and there is also a need for parental education on the different routes available to their children. If we can do this then we can start to instil the confidence and resilience that our young people so sorely need if they are to be successful in one of the most challenging periods of youth unemployment in history.

 We are delighted to have the opportunity to feed into the current review into youth enterprise being run by Lord Young. The UK skills base needs to be enhanced to keep us competitive in our increasingly tough world. Creativity, innovation and get- up- and- go will be vital to energise economic growth. We cannot afford to fuel a disaffected and unskilled labour market and need to recognise the value of practical as well as academic abilities to make sure we don’t.


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