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School students need entrepreneur training: COSBOA

Thursday, 27 January 2011 | By Michelle Hammond

School students who show entrepreneurial skills should have more access to business training programs, a small business lobbyist says.

 

According to Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, there is limited support for school students who show an interest in running their own businesses.

 

“[Students] have the innovation and drive but require assistance to make it happen,” Strong says.

 

“The school system should be working with these individuals, providing them with opportunities and setting up pathways.”

 

Strong says he is unsure what kind of assistance should be made available to students, but believes students should be selected for training based on their level of interest.

 

“We need to approach individuals at school who want to run their own business and will run one in the future. We have to find the best way of doing that,” he says.

 

Strong says the training shouldn’t be compulsory but instead should be focused on a select group of students in order to give them the best opportunities.

 

“We could bring those kids together in a special class or perhaps they could meet with the business community outside of school,” he says.

 

According to Strong, 8% to 10% of Year 12 students show the behavioural traits characteristic of entrepreneurs.

 

“Research shows kids at school with behavioural traits often share the same traits as entrepreneurs – they have trouble listening yet they focus on what’s in front of them, and prefer to be doing rather than sitting,” Strong says.

 

“Examples [of entrepreneurial skills] are marketing, web and online skills, and placing ads in local newspapers.”

 

“Often, [students] don’t have the money to make a bricks-and-mortar store but have the capacity and skills to start up online.”

 

Strong says specific examples of student business ventures include gardening, making surfboards and jewellery making.

 

According to Strong, school-based business programs would raise the profile of the business community, particularly among policymakers.

 

“It would be a normal part of life because people would grow up with it. Business owners would increasingly be identified as human beings – that’s the big gain,” he says.

 

Strong says COSBOA will lobby the government about implementing additional business programs for school students who show entrepreneurial skills.

 

Although there is currently no compulsory business training for school students, the Young Achievement Australia program is a cross-disciplinary business skills program introducing students to the skills and knowledge necessary for commercial success.

 

Students experience all stages of a concentrated business cycle, taking responsibility for all essential business processes.