Young Enterprise – do I have to?

Young enterprise – no two words in the English dictionary fill me with more frustration! Controversial for someone who spends well over 80% of every working day focussed on a passion and mission to inspire teenage girls to raise their aspirations and reach for the stars you may think??

But here’s the thing…….. Enterprise is such an over used and misused word in our education system. The mere mention of the word seems to be necessary to open the school gates for any kind of funding and teachers and educators all over the UK constantly link the word enterprising to ‘let’s set up a business on school time’ activities at best and ‘let’s find something motivating to do for the academic no hopers’ at worse. Now before, I get hate mail and a torrid of abuse, I know some schools get it and I have had the privilege of working with some amazing and dynamic enterprise teachers that I seriously salute, but I have also been into some schools and listened in horror as they define their approach to enterprise, how about these gems…..

  • ‘Oh yes enterprise is covered, we have a retired guy that comes in every other month and mentors some of our kids.’
  • ‘We do not need enterprise here as we are a centre of excellence for sport so it is not important.’
  • All of our pupils will achieve outstanding GCSE results so FE is the goal not enterprise.’

Too often enterprise is seen as a task as opposed to a state of mind. Surely, few would argue that in the world we live in the need to be enterprising, which is defined in the dictionary as ‘ready to embark on a new venture ; full of boldness, initiative and energy; is a core requirement regardless of projected exam results, specialisms or personal choice.
We need to equip our young people with more than a kitbag of qualifications and the odd school project where they were encouraged to make money! Enterprise is not a project to be ticked off the list in year 9, it is so much bigger than that, it is integral to the way we think, our confidence, self belief and initiative. An enterprising individual gives more and gets more in all situations be it in education, in work or in their own business.
There, feel so much better now!


3 Comments on Young Enterprise – do I have to?

  1. Well said Jane! I’ve had the chance to work with young people on a range of projects where being enterprising was key and they stepped right up to that challenge. I think the opportunity to learn how to do this better will come when the young people themselves recognise and value what they have done – and can articulate it to influence parents, teachers, employers and everybody else actually!

  2. Enjoyed reading your rant Jane. Sums up how some, but not all, in the education system are not equipped themselves for ‘enterprise’. Going from one educational system, into another. The comment about good GSCEs and going onto FE – the unemployment rate amongst graduates is high, not all grads go on to the ‘professions. Some of those who do manage to find jobs may have got that job in the first place without incurring a huge debt. I know from experience, as I have interviewed and recruited some of these young people. There are some fantastic kids from all walks of life who just need the encouragement to explore and achieve their very best. I know that you are working hard with your Girls Out Loud project and your team of mentors to ensure the young women’s lives that you come into contact with, will most definitely understand what ‘enterprising’ means for them.

  3. Totally agree. Enterprise can be used as a mere label or catch-all. Genuinely motivted and aspiring young entrepreneurs need inspiring and motivated “teachers” and mentors. It is not enough to include it as a side-topic to business studies. The theory need to be supplemented with practice – or at least those with practiced “wisdom.”

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