The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)
Entrepreneurial ability definitely the way ahead
Entrepreneurship became this trend word over the last decade or so. TV programmes like Dragon’s Den, Shark Tank and The Apprentice gave the idea of entrepreneurs as these heroes who would revolutionise the world with their crazy, disruptive business ideas.
The Cambridge dictionar y defines an entrepreneur as someone who starts their own business, especially when this involves seeing a new opportunity.
However, in academia, the definition of the word entrepreneur is still in its evolution where it keeps changing. There are also spin- off terms such as corporate entrepreneur (intrapreneur) that define a person who is being entrepreneurial within an organisation.
In higher education, entrepreneurship is often associated with entrepreneurial learning, entrepreneurship education and enterprise education. Each has slightly different goals and approaches to teaching.
Entrepreneurship education is focused on the start-up process, enterprise education is foc used on the skills required to be an entrepreneur and entrepreneurial learning is how entrepreneurs learn.
Since its introduction to higher education in 1947, around-the-world entrepreneurship predominantly sits in the
business schools. This is maybe because of its roots associated with the field of economics.
However, this makes the discipline isolated. I ran an experiment a few years ago where I had business students, creative and cultural students and Stem students.
They were put into the teams where, over two days, they had to come up with new business ideas and a commercial new business idea which should have some growth potential.
Business students came up with the least number of ideas. Students from creative and cultural backgrounds were in the middle while the Stem students topped the class based on the number of ideas.
However, business students were better than the other two groups
when it came to scaling up those ideas. On the second day, students were mixed into multidisciplinary teams. The quality and quantity of ideas grew exponentially.
This highlights that there is a strong need to take out the entrepreneurship teaching from the business schools.
It is a creative subject and should be treated as such – to foster entrepreneurship at the university campuses we need an entrepreneurial teaching ecosystem of multi and crossdisciplinary delivery of entrepreneurship.
The late Sir Ken Robinson, a b rilliant educationist, highlighted a very real problem in the modern- day education system, which took its form after the industrial revolution. At that time there was a need for
people that were required to do repetitive tasks in the industries. Over the years, with time and technological advancements, we have moved from a physical labour market to an intellectual one.
More and more companies do not need people for repetitive tasks – anything that requires repetition can be automated. Creativity now becomes as important as literacy, if not more.
I call us a transitional generation. As a generation we are very unfortunate. Our parents did not have to worry about this transition of physical to intellectual leap because they are reaching the end of their careers.
Our children will not have to worry about that because by then the transition would have already happened. We are
the generation that will need to face the challenges of rapid and continuous adaptation of skills and individuality.
Companies need to see what individual skills you bring to their organisation that would make you different to the rest of their employees, or an app.
I believe this is the time when entrepreneurship should be rolled out as a compulsory element of teaching across the whole spectrum of education system.
This is for two reasons: Firstly, so people have the need to evaluate their prospects of becoming self-employed.
Look at it this way – if a company is paying you £ 50k a year, they are making at least £60k back from you, otherwise it will simply not be economical for them to keep you. We see this more and more.
As the technology is advancing around the world, we see people being made redundant.
Secondly, if you still want to work for a company as an employee, entrepreneurship education would help you bring out that individuality element.
If you go on any job portal and search for the word entrepreneur, you will see thousands of job descriptions saying they want entrepreneurial people.
Finally, contrar y to popular belief, academics are far from the picture drawn by TV shows such as the Big Bang Theory.
I love the show, but the reality is that we are practise-focused. We are business consultants and researchers. The research we do and academic publications we write are based on the real businesses. We collect data from these companies and explore new ways to doing things. Sadly, very f ew businesses know about this or ever read academic research.
My Covid- 19- focused entrepreneurship book, 10 Steps to Stay Open, became an international best- seller, whereas an academic article gets only a fraction of downloads over a lifetime.