10 March 2014

Nigel Culkin, Professor of Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Development at the University of Hertfordshire and Director of GRIE (Group for Research on Innovation and Enterprise), has co-authored and launched the new All-Party Group for Micro Businesses report entitled, 'An Education System Fit for an Entrepreneur'.

Overarching strategy needed

Although the concept of enterprise education has been discussed since 1987, this is the first UK report which looks at the need for an overarching strategy across all government departments to deliver the support needed for entrepreneurs to flourish – from the age of 4 to 44 and beyond.

The report investigates for the first time best practice from primary school through to retirement with examples chosen from around the world and across the UK. The report also includes an examination of the cognitive psychology which underpins the entrepreneurial mind-set, real case studies and up to date survey data.

Meaningful education

Professor Nigel Culkin said: "We have learnt a considerable amount over the past 14 months, when it comes to the delivery of enterprise education - both in terms of what works, and what doesn't work. Just the sheer energy exuded by the champions of enterprise education that we met during this time was a revelation; as was the level of creativity employed to get things done, invariably driven by the needs of their pupils and students.

"The other remarkable thing was how many of the entrepreneurs echoed similar thoughts to those of the teachers, researchers and lecturers that we interviewed. Consequently a clear way forward has emerged.

Now the debate can be less about what we need to do, but more directly concerned with ways in which we can implement these findings and to provide meaningful education that matches the needs of an innovative and entrepreneurial society."

Top ten recommendations

  1. An overarching strategy by government looking at enterprise education from primary school to retirement needs to be established, based on clear opportunities at all levels of education and for work returners.
  2. Clarity needs to be established as to what we mean by enterprise education and entrepreneurship education, both of which are crucially important but different.
  3. Teacher training should be reviewed to give teachers a better basis for engaging with the business community for the benefit of students.
  4. OFSTED assessments need to assess business engagement not just community engagement.
  5. The Higher Education sector needs to provide a module on entrepreneurship. This should be made available to all students regardless of discipline and enterprise education needs, over time, to be integrated into all mainstream courses. UUK, HEFCE and associated bodies need to step forward and practically develop this.
  6. A working group needs to be established across academe and business to put forward proposals for integrating work experience, education, mentoring and funding; the four strands which combine to deliver the best results when combined.
  7. A working group also needs to be established to look quite separately at work returners and what support should be available to enable them to set up in business later on in life.
  8. The business community should be incentivised and encouraged to be more actively involved in enterprise and entrepreneurship education through tax reliefs allowing time and expenses engaging in enterprise education to be set off against tax.
  9. The Local Enterprise Partnerships should be required to have at least two board members from the SME community and at least one of these should be a micro business.
  10. Government funding support to LEPS through the Regional Growth Fund and other government support schemes should require evidence before award of LEP engagement with enterprise education.