Curriculo Solutions | Blog

Entrepreneurship or employment skills: Which should your university prioritise?

Karen Glen
Tuesday, 17/10/2017 - 08:53

Instilling employment skills in university students. Portrait of a confident happy businesswoman.jpeg

Tertiary education around the world is evolving from being solely a means of imparting knowledge about core disciplines to a platform on which students prepare for strong careers. As such, the required skills (both technical and transferable) that graduates need and want to acquire through completing a degree has also changed. Young people (Generation “F”) also possess markedly different mindsets towards work and their careers than their predecessors, seeking more autonomous career paths ride on entrepreneurship, startups and technology. Your institution needs to provide the frameworks and resources to enable its students to take charge of their careers early on, whether they follow a path of entrepreneurship or work for an organisation.

Entrepreneurship in India is growing, and universities are responding to this

In the context of Indian higher education, entrepreneurship is expanding strongly. Given that India is the third largest startup location in the world, local universities have begun providing the infrastructure needed to foster this rise in start-ups in the form of core and short courses, mentorship programmes and other forms of training. The Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation’s report on entrepreneurship activities at Indian higher education institutions goes into more detail on this topic.

Entrepreneurship doesn’t only entail starting and running businesses

To paraphrase the Oxford Dictionary definition, entrepreneurship is the act of starting new businesses and taking on the associated financial risk in order to acquire a profit. However, entrepreneurship skills encompass a broader spectrum of attributes besides being able to establish and run a company: risk taking, innovation, perseverance and a mindset able to spot opportunities. These are skills that can just as well be applied and add value to any role, whether in a startup, corporate, governmental or NPO environment.

Transferable, employment skills are vital attributes for today’s job seeker

Perhaps perceived as being not quite as glamorous as entrepreneurship skills, employment skills are the transferable career skills that employers seek in potential job candidates. Also termed soft skills, these include communication, analytical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, time management, self-awareness and research skills, although the list is not exhaustive. These are not skills traditionally acquired or taught as part of university education, yet employers expect graduate job candidates to possess them. And just like entrepreneurship skills can be applied to any role, employment skills are a valuable asset in an entrepreneurial context.

The job market is becoming increasingly disruptive: possessing employment skills is one way to insure against this

There’s a skills gap between what the job market wants in employees and what universities are educating for. According to a study by the Foundation of Young Australians, 60-70% of students are studying for jobs that will not exist by the time they graduate. This startling fact makes the need for universities to adequately prepare their students for their careers all the more pressing. Before institutions can offer more integrated training in employment skills, they will need to overcome the challenges associated with measuring learning outcomes for these soft skills and scale this formation to accommodate a growing number of students.

Attract talented students to your university by offering them an opportunity to prepare for their careers

Employment skills and entrepreneurship skills are a necessary part of university formation, alongside core curricula. By demonstrating to prospective and current students that career outcomes are a priority for your institution, you enhance its ability to attract the talented students that will help bolster university reputation and improve destination metrics.

Curriculo’s Industry Engagement Programme (IEP) is an autodidactic employability course designed to be completed comfortably alongside any degree course. It is one of many strategies you can adopt to augment student employability at your university. Download our guide for other ways to strengthen student employment skills.

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