We asked each member of the team why they think entrepreneurship is an important skill for students today…
The best think about entrepreneurship skills is that they are transferable! Using your studies to develop entrepreneurship skills is fun and exciting, and can lead you to creating your own job. At the same time entrepreneurship skill are increasingly sought-after skills by employers. Knowing how to run experiments to test and validate assumptions, having presentation, networking and communication skills, basic business skills and knowing how to motivate others and work in teams are all very important and useful in every professional context. You can think of entrepreneurship during your studies as a way to work on your own passion project while developing key skills that make you stand out in a workplace.
The world is changing, that’s an irrefutable fact. We don’t know what jobs will exist in five years, or what companies. People need to be prepared for this, and there is no better way then developing an entrepreneurial skillset. These skills will help people create their own futures, think differently, and be ready for whatever comes their way. It’s how they’re going to become the resilient, innovative problem solvers they need to be. Equipping people with entrepreneurial skills is also providing the world with the people we need to solve social issues and complex problems. I really believe it’s going to be the entrepreneurs that are able to address social problems such as homelessness and poverty and stop climate change. A lot of them will do this through charities and startups, whilst others will work to innovate organisations from within. Either way, they’re being entrepreneurial and reframing how we under and respond to problems and equipping themselves and our world for the future.
There are several great reasons to develop entrepreneurial thinking as soon as possible in one’s career, and no, everyone does not need to become an entrepreneur!
The most frequently presented reason is that entrepreneurial mindsets and capabilities are very closely aligned with the #futureofwork. Never mind the semantics of the future of work; the future is here, just unevenly distributed. Developing entrepreneurial mindsets and capabilities early provides a safety net to make sure you’re ready to join a workplace where you’ll be expected to solve complex problems, think critically (challenge assumptions and wisdoms), be creative, collaborate across disciplines, etc. (e.g., comparing WEF 2018 vs. EntreComp, 2016).
But why only survive, when you can also thrive? Entrepreneurship is fundamentally about taking action to create value in face of uncertainty. Employers (and self-employed) love this. Being able to demonstrate that you are able to proactively take initiative, experiment and explore different ways to create value and innovate will make you stand out among peers who are ready to operate and react within the #futureofwork, but not yet ready to lead and push its boundaries.
A side effect of becoming comfortable with uncertainty and taking initiative is that you are developing a capacity to constantly learn. This capacity to learning feeds back into the first point, that almost all career paths will involve increasing levels of either on-the-job learning or learning in parallel to working (e.g. AlphaBeta, 2019).
Students increasingly see entrepreneurship as a real career path. As Henderson and Robertson write, ‘young people are likely to experience a portfolio career consisting of periods of paid employment, non-work, and self-employment’ (2000, p. 279). According to the most recent report from the Kauffman Foundation, this is a global phenomenon: ‘Among young people, the word has gone out that those without self-starting skills may be at a permanent disadvantage’ (2013, p. 1). Young people are already interested in choosing entrepreneurship as a career (Sieger, Fueglistaller & Zellweger 2011), so seeing those examples reinforces their interest. A lot of students are willing to test different things while at university. As a consequence, the university is potentially the ideal time and place for starting, trying and testing entrepreneurial activities (Houser 2014; Bergmann, Hundt & Sternberg 2016).
As Mars, Slaughter and Rhoades (2008) write, student entrepreneurship involves a marked shift in the role of the student, from that of passive learner or graduate to active entrepreneur. In this emerging role, there is an emphasis on ‘students’ agency as entrepreneurs acting with the sponsorship and subsidy of the university’ (Mars, Slaughter & Rhoades 2008, p.644). As part of this shift, students are actively using university resources (including curriculum, staff and infrastructure), platforms (such as specialised incubators where students can develop, produce and market products and services) and environments to their own entrepreneurial advantage (Mars, Slaughter & Rhoades 2008).
Academic in Residence Project Team