Teaching Entrepreneurship in colleges to beat job blues

by Ashvini on April 23, 2013 · 9 comments

in Entrepreneurship

A majority of colleges at least in my country are built on principle of preparing people for jobs. Nothing wrong with that. However it often becomes the corner stone of why one would join a college. The college courses are often old, unchanged and uninspiring. They are meant to provide students as much knowledge as possible in shortest amount of time.

The real world unfortunately demands something different. It demands skills that are unique and that are contemporary. The skills provided by colleges are often from few years back. Since the whole world is witnessing unprecedented slowdown, jobs that repetitive in nature are either disappearing fast or that there is huge competition for the limited numbers. The reducing number of jobs and increasing number of graduates indicates a crisis. Some kind of jobs will disappear leaving people holding those skills redundant.

The best way out of such a quagmire is by encouraging entrepreneurship. Starting small and building up business is a long term thing. Colleges need to impart training in entrepreneurship right from the start. That means the curriculum needs to be overhauled and the emphasis needs to be on generating ideas and bringing them to reality.

This raises a question that if everyone becomes an entrepreneur how difficult it would be get employees for the workforce. The answer is that not everyone who gets skills will become entrepreneurs or start a business. Most of them will probably want to work for someone else rather than on their own. However a few who start their own ventures would create jobs that employs many. There will be failures but each failure will teach far more lessons than just reading textbooks. The entrepreneurship culture will bring venture capitalists and others interested to incubate the ventures.

The study course should emphasize on practical learning rather than rote. For students it means learning only what they want and getting a specialization. Add business knowledge such as soft skills, selling skills and others to it. Thus it becomes a potent weapon to combat the lack of jobs. It will rather create  new jobs that will bring prosperity to everyone.

Difficult times call for change in mind-set and it can only come when everyone responds to challenges in the correct manner and when they break the old habits.

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Karnal Singh May 15, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Education in our country is based on memorising things without understanding the practical application.You will find most of our commerce graduates or even post graduates donot have any practical knowledge of stock market / economy though they will read this in their syllabus…

Zalando May 13, 2013 at 11:41 am

Hi Ashvini

Once again you have come up with an amazing article. I would like to ask that at what standard Entrepreneurship skills must be incorporated in the people. Should it start right away from the school level or it should start from college? For successful future of any country, the Entrepreneurship is a big factor. Small firms are always producing more jobs than the big names.

Its great to read your article and its amazing how you express it.

Bob N. Henry May 4, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Everyone has skills. In fact, everyone has hundreds of skills and each one can be related in some way to one or more occupations. Without ever having had a job, without ever having been trained for a job, you are qualified to perform literally hundreds of types of jobs. Even if in today’s economy you have seen your job down-sized or eliminated, you have many valuable transferable skills that will be needed in your next job.

Daria Steigman May 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Hi Ashvini,

A copy of this post has been sitting in my RSS feed in permanent “unread” mode to remind me that I must comment.

I like what you’re saying about teaching practical skills at the university level, but I have somewhat of a contrarian perspective. I attended one of the few truly liberal arts schools in the U.S. (aka how a literature major ended up with 2 years of science, 1 year of calculus, and 1 year of political science/philosophy). While I did wonder at the time whether I was learning anything “useful” and how I would ever find a job, the reality is that I learned how to think critically and to apply basic knowledge to solving the world’s problems. Okay, maybe not the world’s problems, but somebody’s problems.

It didn’t take me long to appreciate my education: While it didn’t help me get a job I wanted out of college, when I got to graduate school I discovered that I (with no economics courses in my background) did as well as the econ. majors in labor economics because the course was all about taking basic economic theories and applying them to real-world situations. Yup, that critical thinking piece that my liberal arts education prepared me to do so well.

My comment isn’t meant to imply that learning “how to” isn’t important — it’s just that learning the “stuff” (in this case, entrepreneurship) without also learning how to think and apply it more broadly is missing a key piece. In my opinion, universities need to be careful that they’re teaching grounds and not just training grounds. Otherwise they definitely are not, in my opinion, worth the cost of today’s university education.

Ashvini Kumar Saxena May 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Hi Daria,

Wonderful perspective and I don’t say its contrarion at all. You know even coding has an element of poetry as told by Wordpress and explained very well here http://wpdaily.co/blog/2012/12/18/code-poetry/ . I think all subjects are necessary and each one of them give us a great perspective.

Entrepreneurship is about blending those learning from college and then with additional skills utilizing them to make a living. For example I have seen a number of business owners who dont have much idea about marketing, financials and IT. They have great business knowledge because of the way they have cultivated their business of course shaped by their learning. But sometimes they are hamstrung by lack of knowledge of how to run business more effectively.

So entrepreneurship is a great add on to their already existing capabilities. And yes university needs to work on both. I would not like it if all musicians were just businessmen but its great for them if they learn something about business too :).

Thanks for your comment

Radu April 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm

I notice this myself when i graduated my college last year. I had a shock because of the limited number of jobs in this field and the competitivity.
Having the entrepreneurial means from a early stage of our lives can make us doing better choices.

Ashvini Kumar Saxena May 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Hi Radu,
Yes entrepreneurship does open a lot of doors :)

Lori Gosselin April 24, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Hi Ashvini,
I think this post is very relevant and timely. I would recommend taking this back to High School. When children are young and receptive and making choices about which career paths to take. Imagine if this were a course in grade ten – start a business! Imagine if they did all the work in setting it up including the social media part!
I love the idea of encouraging kids to express ideas in this way, of the creativity that would come out of it!

Ashvini Kumar Saxena May 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Hi Lori,

That is true. I feel that encouraging children to learn about business would help them to know about their strengths and to utilize them for business later on.
Without this training , a lot of youngsters are running businesses. Imagine what they would do if they are trained in entrepreneurship :)

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