Enhancing Entrepreneurship Education and Skills Development (Fiorina Mugione)

Enhancing Entrepreneurship Education and Skills Development (Fiorina Mugione)

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To assist policy makers in developing entrepreneurship
education policy and skills development, UNCTAD has generated a checklist that key stakeholders
can use to assess and monitor the quality of national policy on entrepreneurship education and skills development. Lets examine the each component of this policy
area. Entrepreneurial skills centre around attitudes (soft skills), such as persistence, self-confidence, teamwork and enabling skills (hard skills)
including how to start a business, planning financial literacy and managerial skills .
Entrepreneurship education is usually not an explicit part of the curriculum of educational
institutions at any level in most countries. To change perceptions and attitudes about entrepreneurship, education should start at a young age. In developing countries, enrolment rates after primary education may decrease rapidly, and, therefore, entrepreneurship education should be considered a priority at early levels. Entrepreneurship education at the primary school level should focus mainly on soft skills, including entrepreneurship awareness and the development of entrepreneurial behaviours such as for example risk taking, teamwork skills, opportunity seeking. The adoption of awareness programmes within interactive games and, where feasible, online tools have proven particularly useful in many countries. At secondary level, students could be informed about self-employment as part of career development and mentored about their choices. Student-led initiatives are also useful to
initiate special projects to establish links with local communities, serving their needs. At the higher education level, students may attend elective or required courses on entrepreneurship as well as participating in more focused activities and projects. It is important that students are exposed to entrepreneurship prior to their specialisation. Another important focus of entrepreneurship education is on vocational schools. They offer the largest variety of specialized programmes in such trades as carpentry, electronics, cosmetology, auto-mechanics that should be combined with entrepreneurship skills development. While entrepreneurship could be taught as a stand-alone, independent course of study, this is not the only approach, or necessarily the most effective. Even if a freestanding course is provided
in the curriculum, its effectiveness will be enhanced if entrepreneurial insights and competencies are developed throughout the curriculum. If entrepreneurship education is isolated
in a single course, separate from the rest of the curriculum, it may be missed by many students. In the United States, the National Contents Standards for Entrepreneurship Education provides a toolkit for developing entrepreneurship
curriculum, along with standards and indicators. Another example is represented by Tanzania
where UNCTAD is assisting the Government to develop a national entrepreneurship strategy. In June 2015 the Ministry of Education and Vocational Skills launched the National Entrepreneurship Training Framework. During the launch ceremony, curricular developers
were urged to start using the Framework in order to enrich the training curricula. So far, entrepreneurship curricula integrated
other subjects, including personality and sports, vocational skills and general studies. Many vocational, technical and University
colleges in the country have also introduced entrepreneurship in their business programmes
as a cross cutting subject. To teach entrepreneurship effectively to young
individuals we need to understand the key entrepreneurial competencies, and how to promote these skills, focusing on experiential learning and project work, helping identifying best answers to challenges, rather than providing students with solutions. The experiential learning approach can be
adapted to the learners’ environment, which also allows them to adopt an interdisciplinary
perspective, as illustrated in the learning cycle. Prof. Kolb’s experiential learning style theory
is typically represented by a four stage learning cycle in which the learner ‘touches all the
bases’: Effective learning is seen when a person progresses through a cycle of four
stages: (1) having a concrete experience followed by (2) observation of and reflection
on that experience which leads to (3) the formation of abstract concepts (analysis)
and generalizations (conclusions) which are then (4) used to test hypothesis in future
situations, resulting in new experiences. Train the teachers. Teachers of dedicated entrepreneurship courses
exhibit key entrepreneurial skills and attributes, and, in varying degrees, serve as an entrepreneurial
role model and mentor for students. Among good practices, entrepreneurs and practitioners
are invited to assist in the classroom as well as in extracurricular activities and
serve as role models, mentors or coaches. Many new tools ar available online to teachers to improve their skills and access new material developed by specialized institutions. For example, the programme YouthStart of the
European Union provides to teachers several curricula according to age groups and context. Strategyzer offers online teaching courses
and workshops to learn the business model Canvas and the Lean Start Up methods. An important aspect of the teachers’ training
is the quality assurance. The United Kingdom is one of the few countries
offering clear guidelines on this, monitoring the entrepreneurship teaching training. Partner with private sector. One of the key success factors for entrepreneurship
education is the effective engagement of the private sector. Many established firms, and especially larger (including foreign) corporations have a strategic interest in developing the competencies of local suppliers and often take part (e.g. through cost-sharing) in local skills development
and upgrading programmes. There are also many programmes to develop
entrepreneurship education designed and implemented by corporations and/or foundations. Among many, Google Entrepreneurs brings together
startup communities and create spaces for entrepreneurs to learn and work, with online
tools and campuses. The Tony Elumelu Foundation in Africa has
set up an ambitious goal to develop Africapitalism, and offers online training, mentoring and
seed funding to one thousand African entrepreneurs every year, up to reaching 10,000 new innovative
businesses in the next ten years.

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