Enterprising education

Ann Coxwell and Lesley Cottrell on why we must continue to give young people lessons in entrepreneurship

In the current economic climate, we are frequently reminded of the increase in redundancies, the rise in unemployment levels and, as a consequence, the lack of opportunities for young people entering the job market for the first time.

With such a pessimistic outlook on the state of today’s financial situation and no obvious end in sight, it is easy to forget the importance of training young people to be enterprising. But what we need to remain aware of is that an end to the economic downturn will come, and when it does, we’ll need a workforce that’s ready and prepared to help rebuild and sustain a prosperous economic environment.

With this in mind, arguably there’s an even greater need to educate young people in business and enterprise to ensure students entering the workforce are armed with the skills and knowledge required to make a valued difference to the economy’s success. Colleges, local businesses and external enterprise agencies should work together to provide support and guidance to those students wishing to start up a business.

At Ystrad Mynach College, we want our students to enter the business world better prepared – that’s our key concern. This year we were awarded the Make Your Mark Award for Enterprise at the AoC Beacon Awards national ceremony for our cross-college initiative to embed enterprise into the culture of the college. We have an Entrepreneurial Champion facilitating the creation of an enterprise culture through staff development, curriculum development and supporting those wishing to set up their own business. This lets us provide our local businesses with highly trained individuals with strong skills sets.

Young people can also look to use their fresh skills to their advantage during the financial downturn and consider the option of starting a new business. Although there’s an expected 5.4% decrease in the graduate jobs available for 2009 (milkround.com), there’s always the opportunity to start a new business given the right support and guidance.

A recession shouldn’t just be seen in a negative light – it can be a chance for rebirth, new growth and new directions. It’s important that young people view the recession as an opportunity rather than a barrier because it will prepare them to take risks in the future.

By continuing to educate young people in business and enterprise, and encouraging them to view the recession as a challenge rather than a threat, they will enter the job market better prepared. Those businesses that take on students with effective business training and an entrepreneurial spirit will also be in a strong position to profit when the economy begins to recover.

Ann Coxwell and Lesley Cottrell are from the Ystrad Mynach College which won the Make you Mark Award for Enterprise at the 2009 AoC Beacon Awards. For more information on this year’s AoC Beacon Award winners, visit www.aoc.co.uk  

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