As the crisis lengthens and deepens, entrepreneurship continues to rises up the industrial, professional, political and economic agenda. It is often seen as a possible solution to at least some proportion of the current catastrophic unemployment, perhaps especially for the young. Yet entrepreneurship is far from being a panacea for all our economic woes; it’s a risky, difficult, lengthy road, that requires a wide variety of competences and knowledge to be successfully implemented. And it’s this need that enterprise education strives to meet, whether through school classes, at Universities, or in special programmes for the would-be entrepreneur. Of course, it’s not only small new organizations that can benefit from enhanced creativity, flexibility, innovation, and the rapid, lean launch of new projects. This kind of mindset is of benefit to many other employers, in the public, private and non-for-profit sectors alike. To some degree, enterprise education is indeed potentially for everyone.
“How can you teach entrepreneurship?” is one of those questions that my colleagues and I get asked all the time. There’s a sense that entrepreneurs are born, not made, and that those who have the “right stuff” neither need nor want enterprise education. Yet decades of research show clearly that there are all sorts of ways in which enterprise and education can fruitfully come together. Three of the most important of these are education about entrepreneurship, education for entrepreneurship, and education through entrepreneurship.
Firstly, there is education ABOUT enterprise, often targeted at the specialist, for advisers, support agency staff, and academics. These kind of programmes and classes concentrate on what we have found out about who becomes an entrepreneur, and why; what processes they engage in; how the environments they help build impact upon them; and what seems to be driving both success and failure.