Government Must Address “ambition gap” to Encourage Start-ups
The “ambition gap” in the UK is holding potential business owners back from starting up, the organisers of Global Entrepreneurship Week have warned.
Enterprise UK said that would-be business owners needed more encouragement and that business skills must be “embedded into the school curriculum”. Chief executive, Tom Bewick, drew on figures from the campaigning group’s Global Entrepreneurship Monitor that showed 50% of the population wanted to start a business, but only 5.8% were doing so.
A separate report published for Global Entrepreneurship Week revealed that 54% of small-business owners and entrepreneurs thought that the Government should make enterprise education mandatory.
Bewick said a major barrier to entrepreneurship is that the school system does not recognise it.
“The UK’s education system is a nineteenth-century model – it’s totally outdated. Until we get a change of mindset, we will still have an ambition gap. We need to embed entrepreneurship into the curriculum from primary school onwards.”
He added that the UK’s young people have been “sold a dream” that they should go to university and that will lead to a job.
“However, this is not the right message and particularly in the current environment, this is not the case. We need a culture where more people want to make a job, rather than just take a job.”
“One problem is that people think you have to be a particular sort of person to be an entrepreneur. But whatever postcode or background someone comes from, they should be taught that anything is possible.”
However, Dragons’ Den investor, Deborah Meaden, said that education is not the answer to removing barriers.
“Entrepreneurs are born, not made. You must have certain characteristics to be an entrepreneur – you need the ability to take risks, have good judgement and to be highly competitive and confident. I don’t believe these things can be taught in a classroom.”
Interior design firm Mydeco’s founder, Brent Hoberman, said that the purpose of education is not to teach everyone to be an entrepreneur.
“Education should be for teaching people to think laterally and logically. Entrepreneurship skills come later.”
He added that potential entrepreneurs should be prepared to put in the hours.
“Setting up a business can be a struggle, and there will be hard times, but it’s so rewarding and well worth the effort,” said Hoberman.
Entrepreneur-to-entrepreneur investment group Ariadne Capital founder, Julie Meyer, said that there is “a culture of effortless success” that needs to be changed.
“People have to realise that it’s not effortless,” she said.