Entrepreneurship education: heads, I win. tails, you lose

The worst case scenario is that you will land up with a job.” This radical statement by start-up icon Girish of Freshworks (desk) captured the entire attention of those attending a meeting last week.

Published: 23rd September 2017 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th September 2017 07:16 AM   |  A+A-

The worst case scenario is that you will land up with a job.” This radical statement by start-up icon Girish of Freshworks (desk) captured the entire attention of those attending a meeting last week. The best case scenario for every college student can be a worst case fall-back option!

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), founded by London Business School and Babson College in 1997, offers the most comprehensive information on the complex socio-economic phenomenon called entrepreneurship. Slicing the global economy into three zones—factor-driven to efficiency-driven (such as India), efficiency-driven to innovation-driven (such as China), and innovation-driven (such as the US)—the 2016-17 GEM report captures 68.2 per cent of the global population constituting 84.9 per cent of the global GDP. The GEM data provides insights on various parameters that provide a career pathway for entrepreneurs treading on uncertain paths. The Indian data set is an eye-opener.

The report’s assessment on entrepreneurial ecosystem is based on many influencing factors—physical infrastructure, finance, education, government policy in support, relevance, tax and bureaucracy, internal market dynamics and burden, cultural and social norms, commercial and legal infrastructure, R&D transfer, etc. Though Switzerland stands out to be a leader in economy, the Indian datasheet offers interesting perspectives. With a World Economic Forum global competitiveness ranking of 39 of 138 nations, the GEM entrepreneurial ecosystem for India is a mixed bag. With an impressive ranking within the top-10—entrepreneurial finance (rank 1), government policy support and relevance (rank 4), R&D transfer (rank 6), and internal market dynamics (rank 4)—India needs a push in other factors, most importantly in physical infrastructure, taxation and bureaucracy, entrepreneurship programmes and post-school entrepreneurial education.

The government’s recent push through Startup India, ATAL Innovation Mission, ATAL Incubation Centres etc, will hopefully address the lag areas. The GEM ranks India 60 and 56 among 65 nations in the social status to entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship as good career choice parameters respectively. This score to gradually improve requires not only policy interventions, but also changes in personal perspectives on entrepreneurship. The existing illiterate employer-literate employee gap needs to be reduced by nurturing the spirit of entrepreneurship in college and university campuses. With countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Indonesia and Cameroon having better scores than India in the college-level entrepreneurial education mechanism, there is no appropriate time than this to kickstart the process to reduce the illiterate employers-literate employees gap.

Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students’ Survey (GUESSS) by Swiss-based University of St. Gallen released its 2016 report covering 1.22 lakh students from 1,000 universities across 50 countries. India ranks number one in the incidence of nascent entrepreneurship. There is no conclusive data to ascertain that intentions of entrepreneurship lead to entrepreneurship education, but data supports the premise that the more intensive students’ involvement in entrepreneurship classes and offerings, the stronger is their intentions. At post school level, students need a formal and wide sensitisation mechanism to brand entrepreneurship as a viable and attractive career option, either through nascent or intentional entrepreneurship (family-owned), or corporate entrepreneurship (inside an existing business).

Entrepreneurial education creates an enlightened university ecosystem with impactful leanings that shape a successful career. Success in entrepreneurial education creates job providers in the best case scenario and job seekers in the worst case scenario. The career proposition in Entrepreneurship Education: Heads, I win. Tails, you lose.

S Vaidhyasubramaniam

Dean, Planning & Development, SASTRA University


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