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Business group calls for government to equip the next generation to become business leaders

UK Business Forums (UKBF) has welcomed recommendations to modernise and prioritise entrepreneurial education in UK schools that have been included in Entrepreneurship Education, a new report published by Finn Conway for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship.

UKBF contributed to the new report by shining a spotlight on its research into the 45,797 young people aged between 16 and 18 who either registered as self-employed or formed their own limited companies between 2018 and 2020, as well as its experiences of supporting the UK’s largest online community of small and micro-business.

UKBF and its founder, Richard Osborne, have long campaigned for the necessary step-change to help Britain’s youngest business owners. Richard Osborne said: “The lack of support for entrepreneurship in the UK school curriculum is a glaring omission in our education system. Whilst the small business sector is often referred to as “the backbone of the UK economy”, a step-change is needed to ensure our future business leaders are appropriately supported and their entrepreneurial talents are nurtured from a young age.

We welcome the publication of this new report and urge the government to trust in the experiences of its contributors and swiftly act upon its recommendations. There is no reason why nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset can not happen symbiotically with developing academic excellence. Yet, today, young people seemingly must choose one path or the other, and that must change.”

Despite over 45,000 young people starting their own businesses, and the clear enthusiasm for entrepreneurship among the next generation, the teaching of important practical skills for starting and running a business is not a core element of current careers education in UK schools. Many of these young people register as self-employed because post-16 academic education is not the right path for them, and adequate work-based learning opportunities are not available.

Osborne continues: “In my experience as an entrepreneur, education mentor and adviser, I see that many of the positive skills and attributes needed to be a successful business owner, such as risk-taking, overcoming failure, and questioning the status quo, are frequently seen as negative traits in the classroom. This needs to change for the future of British business.”

The APPG Entrepreneurship report calls on the Government to develop and publish a Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy for Schools, which would set out key skills it wants young people to develop, and to provide funding to encourage entrepreneurs from more representative backgrounds to visit and engage with schools.

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