Schools show lack of enterprise?

On Monday, Gordon Brown fired the starting gun for Enterprise Week, a five-day celebration designed to promote entrepreneurship. But amid the thousands of events taking place across the country, one company is warning that schools are not providing children with the skills they need to run their own business.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

This year Enterprise Week is part of Make Your Mark, a national campaign to improve enterprise culture among teenagers and twenty-somethings. With more than 5000 events scheduled to happen before Friday, including the Enterprising Young Brits awards on Tuesday, and Women’s Enterprise Day on Wednesday, there’s clearly no lack of interest across the country.

But one consultancy thinks budding UK entrepreneurs are still lacking key skills – and it’s all the fault of their schools. FDUK, which supplies part-time finance directors to small businesses, reckons that the curriculum is too concerned with kids learning individual skills, rather than the kind of teamwork, management and delegation skills they’d need to run a business.

The answer, argues FDUK director Mike Pawley, is to give schoolchildren more chance to get involved with schemes like Young Enterprise, where they can also learn things like budgeting and cashflow management - though as a Young Enterprise board member, he probably  would say that. ‘Our plea is [to make] business experience a more integral part of schooling’, he says.

(We can see it now - Wednesday afternoon Games could be replaced by double Health & Safety and a single Double-Entry Book-keeping. That'll go down a storm with the teenagers.)

We’re all for encouraging enterprise in young people – in fact it’s crucial if the UK is going to produce the next generation of Dysons, Bransons and Lane Foxes. And the Young Enterprise scheme does a great job of giving schoolchildren some genuine business experience.

But we can’t help feeling that pinning all the blame on schools is a little unfair. Many have already gone to great lengths to add some enterprise training into their already crowded curriculum – but ultimately, teachers get paid for getting kids through exams. And the exam boards tend to frown upon teamwork and delegation when you’re taking your GCSEs…

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