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Entrepreneurial skills - a huge gap in modern education

28 February 2013 / 18:02:40  GRReporter
3385 reads

Victoria Mindova

The development of entrepreneurial skills is one of the biggest flaws of the modern system of education. This is the conclusion of the participants in this year's business forum dedicated to the relationship between education and innovation and the needs of the real economy, which was held in Athens this week. The result is the paradox observed in many European countries today, namely that highly-educated young people remain outside the labour market.

According to a survey conducted by the McKensey Institute, 46% of business leaders say that young people lack entrepreneurial talent and if this trend continues, there will be a surplus of 20 million non-specialized staff in the world by 2020 and a deficit of about 40 million highly qualified people.

Caroline Jenner, who is Chief Executive Officer of JA-YE (Junior Achievement Young Enterprise) Europe stresses that the development of entrepreneurial qualities in young people has been seriously considered in Europe in the last 10 years. The issues of development and competitiveness have had a higher priority in recent years. However, less than 7% of pupils in classrooms in Europe today have access to this type of education. "Business leaders surveyed by us say that young professionals lack entrepreneurial skills the most," says Jenner.

"Young people are very interested in being independent when they are teenagers. The educational system should capitalize on that". Jenner believes that young people should be exposed to the effects of the real business environment even during their early education. The active participation of young people in similar projects and their experience in a real business environment will provide them with the necessary orientation as regards the world after the completion of the educational process. Theoretical knowledge that young people gain should be directly related to the development of specific skills that will help them later to enter the labour market or become entrepreneurs themselves.

Anthony Salcito, who is vice president of Worldwide Public Sector Education at Microsoft Corp, sees three main trends to change the process of education. The first is a deeper connection between the needs of the real economy and the material studied at school. Investments in education have high returns in the long run and should be given special attention. Microsoft has created a specialized programme called ITL Research (Innovation Teaching Research) to help the transformation of teaching practices in a wide range of countries and examined the impact of these changes on learning outcomes of students. Salcito gives Singapore as a successful example of a region where investments in strategic fields of education were made, which have contributed to high rates of economic growth in the region.

The second trend that should be integrated in the process of public education is the use of digital technologies. They should become part of the educational process in order to attract the students’ interest in the material. "Students are now studying without teachers," states Anthony Salcito. He stresses that classrooms, which should be the incubator of knowledge, have not changed in any way over the last hundred years. At the same time, our environment is radically different. The resulting imbalance is counterproductive to the motivation of both young people and teachers. Third is the interaction between teachers that can add to the educational programmes. Salcito is clear that the educational process nowadays spreads far beyond the classroom. The interactive teaching methods and the collaboration between educational institutions in different parts of the world can add to the pupils' knowledge and expand their horizons, which can be achieved with the latest technology and does not require serious investments.

"Technology is not a silver bullet for the problems in education. It must be a tool that helps pedagogy," said Joe Beall, Education and Society Director, British Council. She also talked about the need to change the system that adapts young people to the globalization of the world. Beall is clear that the education system today should focus on creating a set of practical skills in youth by supporting and stimulating creative thinking, language culture and entrepreneurship. Secondary and higher education in the majority of countries do not meet the modern trends of development. Private and public institutions should pay attention to these differences to avoid a deeper crisis in the global job market, experts say.

Tags: SocietyEducationDevelopmentEconomyEntrepreneurship
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