Catherine Whitaker, CEO & Head of Learning of EtonX, discusses how to teach entrepreneurship skills to the next generation of business leaders…
Entrepreneurship has gained mass appeal on our TV screens, through the naked ambition of the Apprentice or the trenchant verdicts of the Dragon’s Den judges. But are we missing the opportunity to communicate entrepreneurship’s wider value in preparing for our schoolchildren for the future?
Having developed an online entrepreneurship course for teenagers around the world, I know there are many transferable skills children can develop from entrepreneurship training. Here are five of the key ones.
The first is creativity. Entrepreneurship requires students to use idea generation techniques both to come up with new business opportunities and to deal with the hurdles they might meet putting their idea into practice.
Analytical thinking is the second benefit. Children will come up on day one with ideas such as a music-sharing app but guiding them to carry out research and find out if there is actual demand for it develops analytical skills. Entrepreneurs are quick to test ideas (often with a Minimum Viable Product), learn from test results and decide either to iterate or to start again.
This, too, requires analysis but also, adaptability – the third key skill. Students learn to be flexible, to embrace different perspectives and respond to feedback.
The fourth skill is persuasion. Gaining support for a product or service from potential collaborators, investors and customers requires persuasive skills. Students need to think hard about what will motivate any of these people to support them, what messages will appeal and how to present their calls to action.
Finally, teenage entrepreneurs rarely work alone so the skill of collaboration is also developed through entrepreneurship experiences. Putting students in groups to develop a concept and pitch it to their peers creates an engaging way to gain build their confidence and ability to work with others.
Generation Z need to develop core skills like entrepreneurship
These transferable skills – creativity, analytical thinking, adaptability, persuasion and collaboration ‒ are critical for rounding out Generation Z’s education. As jobs worldwide are being automated away by technology, our students need to develop the core human skills that allow them to adapt to change with new ideas and ways of working.
The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den provide a gripping view of entrepreneurship. For my money though, the true benefits of teaching this subject lie in its fostering of children’s ability to come up new ideas, analyse success or failure and work collaboratively in a team, all of which equip them with crucial soft skills for a fast-changing world.
See www.etonx.com for more information on entrepreneurship courses.