What is 'enterprise education'?

You may have heard the term ‘enterprise education’. While not a new concept, more and more schools are looking at ways to incorporate enterprise education into the curriculum. We explain what it is, how it’s used in schools and why it’s important.

What is enterprise education?

Enterprise education focuses on helping students develop entrepreneurial, life and employment skills to prepare them for life beyond school, with a particular emphasis on financial capability, enterprise capability, and economic and business understanding. Learning focuses on skills deemed essential for the future workforce, as well as those needed to start a business.

This includes:

  • creativity
  • problem-solving
  • taking initiative
  • communication
  • determination
  • flexibility
  • teamwork
  • time management
  • innovation
  • collaboration
  • adaptability
  • resilience
  • leadership.

How is it used in schools?

Enterprise education programs may be integrated into the curriculum, provided as extracurricular activities, run through external companies or offered as intensive ‘projects’ over a set amount of time (a day or week, for example).

Examples of enterprise education programs that may be in place at your child’s school include:

  • tasks that ask students to come up with a creative solution to a problem or put together a proposal for a new product
  • student-run businesses, stalls and events
  • excursions
  • community service initiatives
  • career programs that allow students to interact with industry professionals
  • real-world applications for basic numeracy and literacy skills
  • financial units focused on teaching students about budgeting, loans, interest rates, investment, calculating profit and loss, and so on.

Why is it important?

A recent report, titled Super Connected Jobs, examines how technology has influenced the Australian workforce over the past decade, as well as the trends set to take shape in the future, including a ‘culture of entrepreneurialism’. Commissioned by nbn, the report found that small business has seen growth of 38 per cent over the past decade, noting that advancements in technology and the rise of digital disruption now allow a level of entrepreneurialism not previously possible.

Enterprise education provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to start a business, while promoting this as an acceptable and alternative career option. In addition to entrepreneurial skills, the aim is to ensure that those who do choose to enter the workforce through more traditional paths are equipped with the soft skills employers are seeking.

Enterprise education programs are also beneficial for students who struggle with traditional academic learning or those who don’t intend to pursue further study at tertiary level, offering an alternative learning model and the chance to learn hands-on skills for the workforce. Unlike normal academic learning, enterprise education is not so focused on pass or fail outcomes — students can learn from their failures as well as successes.

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