Welcome back! If you’re joining us for the first time, a few weeks ago we introduced the series, How the Implementation of Entrepreneurship can Revive an Age-Old System and how an entrepreneurial education can benefit both the typical and atypical learner by: improve students life skills and preparation, provide realistic career options, increase their college readiness, enhance their social and emotional fortitude, as well as spark innovation. Last week, we explored how entrepreneurship could impact the long term success of students by providing a platform to gain crucial life skills—this week, we’ll chat about how it helps provide students with realistic career options and improves their employability.
Realistic Career Options and Employability
From a young age, students are taught their career options through the lens of community helpers. While culturally, we are beginning to teach less gender stereotyped careers, the fact of the matter remains that children are still given limited access to realistic career options. In line with our “teaching to the test” approach, students learn to plan their future through set parameters instead of thinking outside of the box. For instance, a student who loves animals, might see their future in veterinarian medicine or zoology, whereas their actual career possibility is virtually endless. Entrepreneurship poses students with the power to see these options and explore the opportunities that lay outside traditional career choices.
As we continue to teach students the age-old idea that they can grow up to become doctors and lawyers and presidents, with our norm-based rigor, we’ve also created a system where many of them are competing for those jobs. In reality, as of 2017, the top three oversaturated careers in the country were: teachers, lawyers, and doctors. (Hemmings). With climbing unemployment numbers and record high student loan debt, the options presented to students are in dire need of change.
While entrepreneurship as a whole poses a career option, the goal of an entrepreneurial education isn’t to create another over saturated field, more so, expose students to nontraditional opportunities that might not have previously been considered. Senior Vice President at the University of Miami, Bill Green, writes, “For young people to have meaningful work, they need education, skills, and opportunity. They have to be ready to join the labor force, and there must be jobs for them to take. To enhance young people’s opportunity for productive work, it is important not only to teach them necessary basic skills, but also to help them see that creating jobs as an entrepreneur is important work in itself.” (2010).
Through his work at the University of Miami, Green, has worked in the community to use entrepreneurship as a viable opportunity to teach students about their career opportunities. Serving a broad range of students, their program has sought to empower youth “at a time in their lives when hope and possibility are high and risk is relatively low.” Their program Launch Pad, has created 45 new companies and created over 100 new jobs in its first two years.
Green believes, “To expand the number of people who will explore the creation of new businesses and enterprises, the education of young people should legitimate entrepreneurship.”By taking this type of approach, students learn to identify problems in their community and are exposed to micro or specialty fields within careers they might want to pursue.
Already having a marginally disproportionate success rate as entrepreneurs, an entrepreneurial education for atypical learners, provides students the opportunity to explore a career option they might thrive in much sooner in their life.
In an article written by dyslexic born founder of the Dot, Pip Jamieson, she explains how many highly successful people with learning disabilities don’t see it as a disadvantage, more as a highly desirable trait the enhances their ability to not just become entrepreneurs but also find a job! She explains as automation and computers are leading the way to take over careers, people with learning disabilities like dyslexia have traits that “are far harder to automate,” increasing their future employability. (2018). Jamieson believes with learning disabilities come increased traits like: creativity, intuition, curiosity and the ability to continually learn.
As more and more districts cut out creative programming, atypical learners are presented with the lack of ability to engage this important and employable trait. Jamison continues, “Crucially, creativity is the skill-set that is least susceptible to automation. A recent study by NESTA and Oxford University found that 86 percent of ‘highly creative’ workers are found to be at low or no risk of automation. While the same study found that creative occupations are more future-proof to technologies like machine learning and mobile robotics.” Additionally, she writes, “Although it can be hard to focus in on individual words, people with dyslexia have better peripheral vision than most, meaning we quickly take in a whole scene, see outer edges and the big picture. In essence, more data flows into our brains each day.” Presenting an entrepreneurial education to atypical learners not only provides them a resource for expression, it also helps them flex their critical thinking, career building muscles. By engaging in a hands-on, project-based experience, students are also presented with real time work-based understanding that sharpens their workforce skills and improves their employability.
As more and more traditional occupations become obsolete, the incorporation of entrepreneurship plays a big in preparing our next generation. No matter what career field is entered, the basics skills required of employees remain the same, and at it’s core, entrepreneurship presents students with the opportunity to explore endless possibility.
About the Author:
Amber Wakem, 2018; photo courtesy of Sidney Hollingsworth Photography
Amber Wakem holds a Bachelors of Art in Elementary Education. After teaching early childhood for nearly a decade in both a public and private setting, Wakem grew frustrated by the lack of support her young dyslexic daughter, Harper, received. Despite accommodations, Harper’s classroom struggles affected her social and emotional well being—her once bright child disappeared. However, it was through Harper’s self-governed interest in entrepreneurship, Wakem saw her daughter come to life, her brilliant brain shining through. Instantly, she realized how powerful this type of education was and left her job to start Start-Up Kids Club. Wakem’s passion for entrepreneurship have extended past the impact it’s had on her own daughter by watching how it’s affected the community around her. Today she continues to shake up the way we look at education by advocating for inclusive practices beyond standard accommodations and pushing for a broader incorporation of 21st Century Skills through an entrepreneurial education.
Start-Up Kids Club was forged in the belief that by teaching ALL kids entrepreneurial skills we have the power to shape the world by broadening perspectives and enhancing life skills through community, connection, and experience. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, SKC relies heavily on the support from the community to fulfill its mission. Show your support today.