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Embedding Entrepreneurship

Embedding entrepreneurship education into different learning programmes, both academic and TVET can be an important of way of ensuring individuals are prepared for life beyond their classrooms and lecture halls.

We interviewed our Director, Colleen Chater to discuss how entrepreneurship education can be embedded into a range of programmes.

Tell me a bit about you and your background.

I’ve worked for a number of organisations, nationally and also internationally, in the public and private sectors. I have held various roles, all associated with teaching, training, learning, assessment, management of educational provision and curriculum development. In addition, I’ve also participated in national committees, and been involved in reviewing and supporting the creation of government initiatives, typically, at the Department for Education.

How do you think your roles in education have given you a perspective on entrepreneurship?

I think that, in all of these roles whether it’s been as a senior manager, or whether it’s been working more closely with students in a teaching or training capacity, you are developing knowledge, understanding and skill, and aiming to improve the performance and effectiveness of individuals in whatever their position, whether they’re students, whether they are teachers at the beginning of their profession, or whether they are managers. And I think what entrepreneurship does, is not only develop knowledge and understanding, but the application of that in real life situations. So, knowledge, understanding is one component, but unless you then move that into the implications of that, for how one works or performs as an individual, then clearly, the knowledge will sit there in abstract from performance.

I believe that ideally learning should be holistic and seamless so that individuals acquire knowledge and develop understanding utilising a range of skills which are then reinforced in the application of the new understanding which has been gained. Of course there is also the power of review which enables people to identify areas of success and what more needs to be done to improve.

Why do you think there’s been a growth in entrepreneurship education over the last few years?

I think there are a number of reasons for example there are excellent role models for people including, individuals who’ve become successful entrepreneurs and are interesting personalities. People want to know more about what they’ve achieved and how they’ve achieved success. Information is readily available in different media.

I think that many people have ambitions to follow that path and emulate their success. I think also, people are increasingly less likely to stay in the same job role for a long period of time and that means they’ve got to develop transferable knowledge, understanding and skills. And they’ve got to be able to apply that to the role that they’re currently in or they’re seeking to move on to. And thirdly, I think that educational institutions or training providers, irrespective of the level of which they’re working, recognise the wider knowledge and skills, which entrepreneurship develops in individuals. When this is embedded it can make a difference both to those individuals, and also the organisations in which they work.

How would an educational institution embed entrepreneurship into a programme?

There are several ways this can happen. For example, you could map what is currently in the course provision, to modules related to entrepreneurship. These could be modules provided by EduGrowth. So what learners are then doing is seeing that the learning the knowledge, understanding and skills they’re developing in one type of programme can be applied to other courses or other development needs. For example, if you’re developing a skill in plumbing, electrical, carpentry joinery you’re delivering provision which is essentially competency based and skill development, then you can map some of that across to EduGrowth modules. The learning may not map exactly, but then you top it up, you add additional aspects of learning. So, the individual is both gaining knowledge, understanding the skill of the trade but at the same time developing business acumen that they might use in their future life and career progression.

Also organisations that are essentially delivering academic study, at any level, are developing understanding and knowledge. They expect learners to develop and utilise study skills in order to use that knowledge and understanding. What is missing is the application of learning to real life, business situations. Entrepreneurship modules can bridge this gap. Again, you’re moving the learning on, you’re giving participants a wider perspective on the learning than you would if you if you retained a purely academic study. The other important point is that entrepreneurship learning can be delivered in different timeframes, dependent on individual need. You might have a long programme of academic study, or one which leads to a competency-based qualification. However you can also use entrepreneurship learning in short programmes. This might be summer schools or boot camps. It might be associated with clubs or societies, which might run alongside other types of learning.

In that short timeframe, you can harness enthusiasm from individuals. You can develop skills in for example in team working, or it might be related to setting and achieving goals or planning. In building confidence. So, I think you can utilise entrepreneurship learning in a range of different ways in order to meet specific learner need.