04 Sep The Intersection of Education, Entrepreneurship and the Future of Work“Entrepreneurship is the future of work and that future will be shaped by the quality of education we give our kids today.” Click To Tweet
Entrepreneurship is a buzzword these days yet many don’t know what it really means.
As the rate of unemployment on the continent keeps rising, it looks like the most viable roadmap to economic sustainability is through self-employment.
The logic is clear, youth entrepreneurs are more likely to hire fellow youths, are particularly responsive to new economic opportunities and trends, among other things.
If that is true, and research shows it is, then there’s a clear intersection between education, entrepreneurship and the future of work.
In this article, we shall explore this intersection and how we should educate young people for the future of work. Let’s get started.
The intersection of education, entrepreneurship and the future of work.
Many times when people talk about these elements – education, entrepreneurship and the future of work – they are often discussed as mutually exclusive concepts. In that sense, there’s an “either-or” proposition between entrepreneurship and employment.
Whereas many believe there can be some level of autonomy within an already established institution, the term “intrapreneurship” does not give us the full picture. It seems to suggest that this is an exceptional case – and might not be for everybody.
Like many challenges in our society today, I think that this wrong assumption stems from our education system. The way entrepreneurship has been taught in many schools around continent is fundamentally wrong. All through our lives, we’ve been taught that entrepreneurship is “the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”
When narrowly so defined, it seems like entrepreneurship is about title, status or economic gain.
Yet, the converse perspective is that entrepreneurship is far beyond those elements. On a basic level, entrepreneurship does not necessarily mean starting your own business – it’s a mindset. It’s is an awareness to take ownership of one’s reality and direction and persistently execute against those objectives until fruition.
We live in a world where kids entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that never existed before. Therefore, we do our entire society a great disservice if we do not inculcate in them the mindset of problem-solving, self-reliance, sales, and teamwork from the basic level.
These factors are the fundamentals of entrepreneurship: providing innovative, marketable solutions to societal problems and creating a human institution that can sustainably drive that solution at scale.
In other words, whether you work in a job or have self-employment through a new venture, you can take ownership of your reality, direction, and thought.
Entrepreneurship and the future of work.
Essentially, I think that most of the conversation around the future of work lacks one key substance.
We have majored in understanding the interaction between intelligent technologies and automation on jobs and employee skills but little mention has been made of entrepreneurship in that context.
The signs are all over the place, entrepreneurship is the future of work. The “fragmentation of work (short-term contracts, gig work, project-based work, etc.) and the imbalance of power between employers and workers” are proof positive that the future of work is entrepreneurship.
We’re entering an era where everyone will have to take the reins of his or her career aspirations. With the increasing labor market polarization in many developing economies, successful employees of the future will be those who are able to manage their careers with the principles of what we know as entrepreneurship today. In other words, we’re all going to be entrepreneurs in the future.
I have said this for so long, yet many people don’t get it. Am I the only one that thinks like this? Do other people have opinion in this direction?
Let’s take a look at Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Aoun Joseph (2017):
“A ‘robot-proof’ education is not concerned solely with filling student minds with high-octane facts. Rather, it calibrates them with a creative mindset and the mental elasticity to invent, discover, or create something valuable to society.”
Gary Schoeniger, the founder of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative and the Ice House Entrepreneurship Programs:
“Entrepreneurship is more than an academic discipline. It is a mindset; a framework for thinking and acting that can empower anyone to succeed. And, in today’s rapidly changing, highly complex world, the need for entrepreneurial thinkers at all levels of society has never been greater” (Schoeniger, n.d. 2013).
Finally, here’s a ted talk by Satish Kanwar on why entrepreneurship is the future of work.
What’s the way forward?
First, we must change our perspective on the subject matter.
Owning a business does not make a person an entrepreneur. A lot of people are just romantic about the fancy CEO/Owner/Founder title and they’re not entrepreneuring anything. Any surprise why the stat of dead startups is so high?
It’s better to own a piece of the cake than to own a plate full of nothing. It is my prediction that in the future, no one will hire anyone as staff. We’ll all be looking for collaborators. We’re all going to be entrepreneurs.
Think this is far fetched? Check out this video of Nigeria-based payment processor, Flutterwave, replacing their staff monthly salaries with a monthly billing invoice for work done. Although they presented it as a prank, I do see this becoming an industry norm in the near future.
Second, we must redesign and refocus our curricula and pedagogy to harness the creative genius of every child. We must teach people how to collaborate with others, as well as how to be resilient and independent.
People often have this idea that entrepreneurship is not taught in the classroom but that cannot be further from the truth. The reason they think that way is because our education system has been “concerned solely with filling student minds with high-octane facts” over the last few decades.
The tides are now turning.
In my opinion, the one necessary and sufficient condition for entrepreneurship is creativity. Each one of us was born with this innate ability. We can all develop the ability to take ownership of our reality and direction.
The dividends of the digital economy belong to people who have the skills to harness and monetize their creativity.
I believe that Satish was right, the future of work is entrepreneurship. Only by cultivating the mindset of problem-solving can we unlock the potential of the next generation and create equal opportunities for everyone.
On our part, we have created a six weeks career coaching program to equip young people with the skills that will be most valuable in the future; as well as connect them with industry leaders. If you’re looking for a job or want to activate your content writing skills, don’t miss our upcoming session. Class starts on Saturday, September 7!
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Tom-Chris Emewulu is the Founder & President of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana, and an aspiring Venture Capitalist.