Every year I go back to my old school to help with a few days that they put on to talk about business. Now considering what a big aspect of many people’s lives business is, it seems odd that only two days in the life time at school is actually spent focusing on it. I appreciate of course that business studies cover that, but with most employees taking other subjects, very little time seems available for everyone. Now I am not singling out my old school, I think they do more than most, but it begs the question how do you get young people inspired by the world of work and their contribution to it?
I am a great believer that no matter what industry or career someone chooses there are certain life skills that everyone should have in relation to business. We all have to sell ourselves or our ideas and parts of the course they were involved in included self-branding and promotion. Also I have always felt that CVs with just academic qualifications give you little insight into the person and that actually their work experience, hobbies and interests give you a much better guide as to the type of person you are considering for employment.
I started my first business at 15 while doing my GCSEs and that kept my interest until I finished my A-Levels. Now I appreciate that is an extreme example of business experience but when speaking to these students I really feel that a lot of them could have some kind of business interests out of school and gain a lot of experience and development from it. The problem is that they don’t appear to have that aspiration in any form.
When asked most didn’t have any ambition past going to uni, and that is something that I really struggle with. If you don’t have ambitions or dreams how are you ever going to achieve them? And then it got me thinking about how much time and effort they spend doing everything they are told to do rather than time to think and develop by themselves. A report in The Times said that people leaving school are real high achievers in their breadth of knowledge. The problem is does this also remove something else? I have always thought the more education someone gets the less common sense they have. Crude I know, and from someone who never went to university! But I do think there is some sense in the educational piece that because of its very process removes the self-thinking and self-control aspect.
The other consideration is the fear of failure. Lots of changes are being made to our education system, and upbringings for that matter, where failure is either removed completely or student’s paths are scoped so they are protected from that failure. While I never enjoyed failure it certainly made me the person I am today and something I would hope my children would get to experience. Failure is part of the real world and protecting our new generation from it makes them less risk adverse, and hence the notion of running their own business too much of a leap of faith.
Maybe that is why so many Entrepreneurs come from a background of little education or from rebelling early on. I am certainly a believer that you become more risk adverse as you get older, so therefore surely 17 – 18 year olds should be really embracing the opportunity that business, and even owning or running a business affords. The challenge is in the delivery and expectation. I believe however work is to be done at this grass roots level to give students that belief in themselves and maybe we might just inspire the next generation of business leaders.