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Industrial Strategy Consultation: EEUK Response

EEUK welcomes the Government’s green paper ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’ and supports the commitment to ‘build on our (UK) strengths to enable all parts of the country to succeed: helping to deliver a high-skilled, competitive economy that benefits people throughout the UK’.

There is a strong commitment to ‘make the UK one of the most competitive places in the world to start or to grow a business and it is clear that enterprise and entrepreneurship education will play a key role in supporting this and the 10 pillars that have been identified.

We identified three pillars where enterprise and entrepreneurship education has particular relevance and asked our members to help us to shape our response which follows.

We are very grateful to our members for their helpful input.

 

CONSULTATION QUESTIONS

 

Pillar 1 - Investing in science, research and innovation

Question 8 - How can we best support the next generation of research leaders and entrepreneurs?

As highlighted in the QAA Enterprise and entrepreneurship education guidance for Higher Education (2012), enterprise and entrepreneurship education has a key role to play in developing skills, mindsets, confidence and capabilities related to enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation. This is particularly so for researchers and research leaders in all disciplines in order to enable them to maximise the commercial and social impact of their research. However, enterprise and entrepreneurship education needs to be introduced early and embedded at the undergraduate, postgraduate, postdoctoral and academic levels if a culture of enterprise is to be developed such that academics consider the exploitation of their research from the outset. There is a clear link to the research impact agenda as appropriately skilled researchers will be better able to increase the impact of their research. However, there needs to be funding available (possibly via HEIF), and a requirement built into publicly funded research programmes, to ensure that researchers receive appropriate enterprise and entrepreneurship education as part of their personal and career development.

 

Pillar 2 - Developing skills

Question 11 - Do you agree with the different elements of the vision for the new technical education system set out here? Are there further lessons we can learn from other countries systems?

We agree with the vision but would like to emphasise the importance of enterprise and entrepreneurship education being embedded within the new technical education system from the outset. Regardless of whether the students who receive this education become employees / intrapreneurs or employers they will need strong commercial awareness, resilience, creativity and an ability to spot opportunities and make things happen – all underpinned and supported by enterprise and entrepreneurship education.

Question 13 - What skills shortages do we have or expect to have, in particular sectors or local areas, and how can we link the skills needs of industry to skills provision by educational institutions in local areas?

Employers continue to identify that graduates are insufficiently prepared for a rapidly changing global economy where skills related to enterprise and innovation need to sit alongside technical skills. Many of our member universities and colleges are working hard to improve this situation by embedding enterprise within the curriculum in a wide range of disciplines. Much more work needs to be done in this area but it needs additional support with dedicated funding. We suggest that an extension of HEIF to provide a new ring-fenced element specifically to support institution-wide embedding of enterprise into the curriculum would bring about significant improvements in employability that would be welcomed by industry and would ultimately contribute to economic growth.

We would also like to note that universities train teachers so better connectivity between business schools, schools of education and enterprise educators could lead to teachers being better skilled at developing their own approaches to delivering enterprise education in the classroom. Universities could act as hubs for enterprise in education, bringing together players like LEPS, schools, colleges and employers to work together to co-produce quality educator development programmes that support the building of an effective entrepreneurial culture.

Question 14 - How can we enable and encourage people to retrain and upskill throughout their working lives, particularly in places where industries are changing or declining? Are there particular sectors where this could be appropriate?

Enterprise education creates a set of skills and behaviours that support people throughout their lives to become more creative and better able to spot opportunities and act upon them. This enables individuals to manage and deal with change and respond to changes and challenges that industry faces – enterprise education should therefore be embedded at all stages of learning including lifelong learning.

 

Pillar 4 – Supporting Businesses to start and grow

Question 22 - What are the barriers faced by those businesses that have the potential to scale-up and achieve greater growth, and how can we address these barriers? Where are there outstanding examples of business networks for fast growing firms which we could learn from or spread?

Enterprise and entrepreneurship education is of high value for both start-up and scale-up although programmes need to be tailored for the two different scenarios. In the case of scale-up, programmes are often referred to as growth programmes, rather than enterprise education and, within universities, are delivered by enterprise educators who work across a wide spectrum of disciplines. We note that the Green Paper states that the entrepreneurship review will examine how to ensure that best practice across business schools reaches the widest audience. We strongly recommend that the review considers best practice across whole universities rather than just business schools as, in the experience of our members, enterprise and entrepreneurship education is often most effective when delivered by a central service working with a broad range of disciplines, rather than by one specific school.

We note and agree with the proposal for peer-to-peer networks to support growth and would also like to highlight the importance of mentoring by those who have genuine experience of growing businesses.

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