A report out today urges the UK government to add lessons in entrepreneurship and innovation to the national curriculum.
The Unleashing British Business report, produced by a forum organised by Smith & Williamson, the business group, in conjunction with Cubitt Consulting and The Centre for Entrepreneurs, claims that academic institutions are failing to inspire students to establish their own business.
After failing to drive reforms at the Department of Education, the group has submitted the report to Vince Cable’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills [BIS].
Guy Rigby, head of entrepreneurial services at Smith & Williamson, said: “The increasingly entrepreneurial culture in the UK has the potential to bring huge benefits to our society but things need to change. Our outdated methods of education fail to recognise the full potential of an increasingly savvy generation.
“If we are to encourage future generations to start up and scale up their businesses in the UK it’s time to get Vince Cable, BIS [the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills] and the Department for Education to address them.”
The report argues that government should create entrepreneur academies like those set up by Capita founder, Sir Ron Aldridge. The Aldridge Foundation provides funding to schools and colleges in parts of the UK that lack opportunities for entrepreneurs. It aims to equip young people, irrespective of their background, with skills and entrepreneurial qualities that can help them run a business.
Sherry Coutu, entrepreneur, business angel and non-executive director who chaired one of the forum’s panels, said: “It’s vitally important that children acquire the skills for the opportunities that will be there for them when they graduate. The most effective way to do this is to bring entrepreneurship into the classroom.”
Alongside the education reforms, the report outlines a number of other areas where government can make it easier for young entrepreneurs to set up a business.
For example, it recommends: reintroducing a corporate venturing scheme that gives tax cuts to large organisations investing in small companies; creating family friendly tax policies that make it easier for family members to invest in enterprises set up by relatives; reintroducing small business tax rates; removing red tape that makes it hard for startups to recruit; and restoring relationships between banks and small firms where managers offer advice.