It’s been claimed that in 2002 George W Bush said to the French President Jacques Chirac; “The problem with the French is they don’t have a word for Entrepreneur”. Well, he might have been all muddled up but the current Australian Government is far from confused. They know exactly what entrepreneurship is and its role in Australia’s economy and future place on the world stage. In fact, Malcolm Turnbull is spearheading a movement that places innovation and disruptive thinking firmly on the national agenda. And its not just the top leaders recognising its vital importance, its the youth of the nation too. Our friends at the Foundation for Young Australians argue that there is an urgent need for more comprehensive entrepreneurship education in schools. Why? Well, if we agree that a key function of schools is to adequately prepare students to be capable, confident and constructive members of the social fabric then explicitly teaching entrepreneurial skills is essential.
So what do the kids of today need to be able to do in the brave new world of tomorrow? The futurist Thomas Frey suggests that’s virtually impossible to answer because “As a rule of thumb, 60% of the jobs 10 years from now haven’t been invented yet.”. With a rate of change that frenetic there are really only two things of which we can be certain. One, the only constant is change. And two, the future belongs not to the knowledgeable but to the learners. The American writer and futurist Alvin Toffler forecasts that “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, and relearn”. Before we throw up our hands in despair its worth noting that there is one group of people who not only survive change but actually thrive in it. Entrepreneurs. Their business savvy, comfort with risk and failure, lateral thinking and agile mindset allow them to see opportunities where others see danger and chaos. I love the story of Soichiro Honda who, when his factory was bombed during the WW2, ran outside and collected the plane’s discarded fuel cans because they contained the hard-to-find raw materials he needed to manufacture motorbikes. After the horror and carnage of the war and his country’s defeat, he emerged with a fully fledged business. So how do we future-proof our kids? We help them discover their entrepreneurial spirit.
Recent studies have demonstrated the multiple benefits of teaching entrepreneurship in primary schools. A discussion paper from the University of Amsterdam has shown the positive effect of early entrepreneurial teaching on fostering teamwork and leadership in addition to the acquisition of real-world business knowledge and skills. The researchers also noticed an upswing in the generation of ‘soft skills’ such as resilience, drive and creativity. Primary School teachers attest that when their students explore the biosphere of entrepreneurship they are exposed to a raft of national curriculum essentials. These include such fundamentals as literacy, numeracy, ICT capacity, critical and creative thinking, personal and social capacity, and intercultural understanding.
We live in exciting times. Turnbull set the keynote for his Prime Ministership when he said just after gaining the top spot; “volatility in change is our friend if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it”. We here at Club Kidpreneur agree. His passion for embracing the rapid pace of change by teaching entrepreneurial skills in echoed in the new national curriculum. And we are delighted to be on the vanguard of entrepreneurial training in Australia. We shouldn’t be scared of living in a time in history when an entire industry can be turned upside down by an app. Lets not forget, it was an Aussie who invented WiFi. And with Australian schools championing the benefits of teaching entrepreneurship to primary school kids, it won’t be the last time we gift to the world something of extraordinary value.
by Nick Harding, Club Kidpreneur School Partners Coordinator