Embracing Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in Further Education

IOEE Academic member, Reece Leggett, is our latest blog contributor for Think Enterprise. As a business teacher of 16-18 year olds, Reece discusses why he thinks it is important to implement enterprise and entrepreneurship education into the curriculum.

David Bowie once said ‘’I feel confident imposing change on myself. It’s a lot more fun progressing than looking back. That’s why I need to throw curve balls.’’

So what does a quote like the aforementioned have to do with business? Well as a business teacher of 16-18 year olds I cannot help but feel the whole curriculum needs far more focus on change and must embrace E&E education.

Having studied business from GCSE through to Masters level 7 and now teaching it, I feel I have some personal angles to bring to the party on the curriculum and what is being taught.

In guidance published in 2012 by QAA they stated that “The call for a greater emphasis on enterprise and entrepreneurship education is compelling. Driven by a need for flexibility and adaptability, the labour market requires graduates with enhanced skills who can think on their feet and be innovative in a global economic environment. There is an acknowledged need, as well as a political imperative, for an infrastructure that supports and enhances enterprise development across the curriculum.’’ (QAA:2012)

I agree with the above statement but also think we should be looking at this from a FE perspective not just degree level. We have many 16-18 year olds who study with us who have ambition to start a small business and we must ensure our curriculum is made to measure with this ambition.

We must foster creativity and allow students to make mistakes and help provide solutions to these mistakes. The best way to do this is to have a curriculum that works with employers to give real life scenarios, situations and opportunities.

Entrepreneurship & enterprise education has fascinated me for a while now and I have read, researched and tried implementing what I consider to be best practice. However, it is working closely with an employer that I have found exactly what I had been looking for, expert views on what business need, want and would benefit from in terms of our young people. And more than this they also offered a helping hand to work in partnership to help achieve this.

Softer skills like networking are often missed out from the curriculum and employability work, but having seen this first hand we need to make sure our young people are confidently able to build those relationships and attend events and connect with people.

Why is networking not taught within the curriculum for example? We want our young people to be confident enough to talk to employers but the curriculum is not advancing this cause by sticking to the established norms.

And a key element is what our learners want from their course, do they want to be in a classroom constantly revising for an exam or working at an outside organisation as part of their assessment, I know which I would prefer.

Not all of our students go to university & therefore it is vitally important we give our young people the options from apprenticeships, work but also starting their own business. To do this our curriculum must be broad, inclusive and offer skills around each.

I often use the term facilitate rather than teach, I see my own role as part teacher, part facilitator, I had no prouder moment than my students creating a new product complete with a full business plan, advert and presentation which they then pitched to local entrepreneurs for Global Entrepreneurship Week last year through which I merely acted as a facilitator and supporter.

3 Key steps to improve the outlook:

  1. Working with employers to craft and quality assess the business curriculum within schools and colleges.
  2. Giving teachers & lecturers the freedom and backing to innovate and back changes that allow for true enterprise and entrepreneurship education to take place.
  3. Teaching soft skills!

Finally, working with employers is key to achieving this goal and whilst we are in early steps I am excited by the future of enterprise and entrepreneurship education including our own provision!