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Put entrepreneurship in schools, say top business minds

Business

Entrepreneurship should be taught alongside mathematics, science and English, some of South Australia’s sharpest business minds have advocated.

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Speaking at a panel discussion at the launch of the InDaily’s SA Business Index Top 100 on Wednesday, Uber Australia’s general manager David Rohrsheim received applause after calling for entrepreneurial skills to be introduced to the state school curriculum.

Director of UniSA’s Centre for Business Growth Professor Jana Matthews said the country was missing an opportunity to tap into and nurture a pool of young businesses talent.

“You’ve got to start further back down the pipeline [of education],” Matthews said.

Matthews and Rohrsheim were joined on stage by Adelaide Crows’ chairman, and keynote speaker, Rob Chapman, Prescott Securities general manager Andrew Sterzl and prominent SA businesses women Angelique Boileau.

The panel discussion was a highlight of the inaugural Top 100 businesses which was announced at the gala event at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

About 600 of South Australia’s top business minds gathered to hear Chapman speak of the businesses opportunities for the state and Premier Jay Weatherill acknowledge the difficulties of the past 12 months buoyed by growing new businesses rising to fill the voids left by traditional industries.

Entrepreneurial courses in state schools was raised by Business SA last year when it was put forward as one of its key recommendations in its 2014 Charter for a more prosperous SA.

Under Vocational education, skills and workforce development, Business SA proposed: “the study of entrepreneurship should be embedded into the secondary school curriculum to provide all students with an understanding of what is involved in starting and operating a business”.

In its report, Business SA stated that, although some entrepreneurial courses had been available, in a “modern economy” the subject needed to be part of the state curriculum to provide business options similar to opportunities provided by trade apprenticeships and tertiary education

“Students must be well prepared to open themselves up to a range of opportunities at a tertiary or trade level,” the recommendation read.

“Students also need to gain some understanding of entrepreneurship, the underlying driver of the economy and job creation.

“The economy constantly relies on the next generation of entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks to start businesses which ultimately provide job opportunities for others.

“Although students must have a solid academic grounding, understanding how to start and operate a business is equally important to ensure the long term growth of our economy.

“Entrepreneurship courses have been available at a tertiary level for some years, but we must now embed them in the secondary school curriculum for students to understand that starting a business is also an option for them in the future.”

Business SA’s Rick Cairney attended the G20 Agenda for Growth: Opportunities for Small to Medium Enterprises in Melbourne last year which adopted the proposal as a key recommendation.

“Teaching entrepreneurship in schools could help tackle youth unemployment and reinvigorate Australian business culture,” Cairney said.

“Not every young person will start a business, but they would all understand what small business entails.”

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