By its very nature, my role within JA involves frequent interactions with an array of stakeholders – particularly young people, educators, parents, and public officials – and as a result of such interactions, and the feedback I receive, I frequently feel the need to go back to the drawing board and review my thoughts on the nature of entrepreneurial education, and its value to young people and society as a whole. 

So what do we mean by entrepreneurial education? Entrepreneurial education has been defined as “the process of equipping people with the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes to enable them to identify, evaluate and pursue business opportunities successfully, while at the same time respecting ethical and social norms.” Essentially, entrepreneurial education is a process that involves the study, teaching and application of entrepreneurial skills, knowledge, and mindsets.

Entrepreneurial education is a phenomenon that has evolved – also thanks to organisations such as JA – to stimulate interest in entrepreneurship at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of education. It often forms part of business studies, within subjects such as entrepreneurship, small business management and other similar subjects. Significantly, entrepreneurial education is a multi-disciplinary field, incorporating aspects of law, finance, management, marketing, economics, social and behavioural sciences, as well as other areas. And like entrepreneurship itself, entrepreneurial education is context-specific, which means that it varies according to the local, regional, and national culture, economic development, and other socio-economic circumstances.

Entrepreneurial education provides the tools for improving the skills and knowledge of budding entrepreneurs, and to encourage entrepreneurial activities. It can therefore have a significant impact on entrepreneurial intention, the decision to start a business, the development of new ventures and the overall economic growth of nations.

However, entrepreneurial education can have a much wider scope than that. And the question one should really ask is: “Why should entrepreneurial education be an integral part of the school curriculum?”

The answer is that entrepreneurial education can help all students develop a range of skills and competencies that are valuable in both their personal and professional lives. It can help all students develop the foundation they need to succeed in an increasingly global and dynamic economy. Indeed, entrepreneurial education fosters a growth mindset which makes them resilient and view failures as challenges rather than obstacles. Moreover, entrepreneurial education can help students become responsible and ethical citizens, along with emphasizing the importance of ethical decision-making, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability.

In addition to these personal benefits, entrepreneurial education also has the potential to benefit society as a whole. Entrepreneurs are the driving force behind economic growth and innovation, and by teaching entrepreneurship in schools, we can help foster a more entrepreneurial and transforming society. Students can also develop the much-needed expertise they need to start their own firms, and this can stimulate economic growth. It can also help students develop the aptitude they need to be effective leaders and innovators in a wide range of organisations.

In recognition of the above, at JA Malta we will continue to strive for a National Entrepreneurial Education Policy which will seek to entrench entrepreneurship education within the local national school curriculum.  Moreover, we will continue to promote the need and provide the means for the implementation of at least one practical entrepreneurial experience during compulsory education. Finally, we will continue to inspire students, even at a young age, to experience concepts of entrepreneurship, to embrace their potential to benefit society as a whole, by fostering economic growth, innovation, and responsible citizenship.

Matthew Caruana – JA Malta CEO