“Entrepreneurship should include college graduates”

Today we came across an article by Geoff Percival in the Irish Examiner online. You can see the original article here. It provides some great quotes from Professor Suzi Jarvis who is the founding director of the Innovation Academy at University College Dublin (UCD), which has developed an exciting intellectual and physical space where students and staff take a practical approach to developing key entrepreneurial skills.  Great!

Professor Jarvis makes the point that government investment in entrepreneurship typically occurs too late because it focusses on ‘start-up’ companies. Of course, by definition, these companies have already started up!

“Entrepreneurship — in its broadest sense — is an individual’s ability to turn ideas into action,” remarks Professor Jarvis. Effectively, their must be a shift in focus towards those who are in the ‘ideas’ or ‘pre-startup’ phase; not on those who have already started, which represents a relatively small pool of individuals.

Jarvis is calling for the focus to fall on college graduates. UCD, in fact, offers a ‘springboard’ graduate certificate in innovation, entrepreneurship and enterprise, which they describe as utilising a fundamentally different approach to entrepreneurial education, this certificate enables ambitious and enthusiastic students to operate in a vibrant and multi-disciplinary environment, and transform their ideas into value.

The fundamental message is that in order to really make a difference in the culture of entrepreneurship, it must be introduced as part of higher education, “the earlier and more widespread the exposure to entrepreneurship and innovation, the more likely it is that students will consider entrepreneurial careers at some point in the future,” Jarvis said.

The question is, really, when do we start introducing these ideas? Once students have been through school and University and accumulated some debt, do they have their sights firmly set on landing a career job? How many of these students ever get to the “pre-startup” phase because their innovative and creative character has already been coached out of them? This, of course, harks back to the Sir Ken Robinson “How schools kill creativity” TED talk and our piece on Breeding Brilliant Box-Tickers.

We, all too often, seem to forget how influential school is and how institutionalising it is. Psychologically, the difference between a 25 year old start-up entrepreneur and a 20 year old ‘pre-startup’ is big, but the difference between a 20 year old ‘pre-startup’ and a 15 year old school kid is colossal. Surely if we are to make the biggest change to the way society brings up its entrepreneurs, we must address the way we school our children. This is the only way in which we will keep the pool of potential entrepreneurs, the future employers and business leaders of tomorrow, as large and as talented as we possibly can.