Working in partnership, during March the IOEE and Enterprise Educators UK conducted a comprehensive survey of each organisations’ membership. We asked this diverse set of individuals for both their views and their experiences as enterprise education professionals. Here, we’re sharing the survey’s most pertinent findings with you.
Enterprise Educators UK is a national network of enterprise and entrepreneurship educators and practitioners. Its 1,600-strong membership base is represented in institutions of further and higher education across the country, as well as in multiple other educational organisations. Like the IOEE, Enterprise Educators is committed to furthering the reach and impact of quality enterprise and entrepreneurship education.
In recent years, the IOEE and the EEUK have developed a strong partnership and they’re currently working together to build a professional programme that will recognise the skills of enterprise educators. The two bodies are uniquely placed to undertake this ambitious project; the EEUK’s position as a leading enterprise education membership organisation and the IOEE’s skills and experience as a professional awarding body make a great combination. Last month, in preparation for the work ahead, the two organisations launched the first survey of its kind in the UK.
The Enterprise Educators Survey was designed to take an invaluable snapshot of the sector right now, revealing to us the lived day-to-day experiences of enterprise education professionals and helping to define what this set of people want and need from future accredited training programmes. The sheer diversity of respondents was great – everyone from advisors and tutors, mentors to enterprise leaders, and lecturers to MDs took the chance to have their say. A large proportion of respondents (46%) defined enterprise and enterprise education as forming the main element of their workload, with a significant majority (62%) citing enterprise or entrepreneurship education (either credit or non-credit baring) as their primary area of work. Also well-represented were those operating in business and management (28%).
When asked which stage of the enterprise and entrepreneurship journey they most frequently worked with learners on, the split amongst participants was quite well balanced, as follows:
- Developing awareness of enterprise and entrepreneurship (27%);
- Developing an enterprising and entrepreneurial mindset (23%);
- Developing enterprising and entrepreneurial capabilities (31%);
- Being effective in starting and managing a new venture (19%).
We asked participants to share the three key challenges they face as enterprise and entrepreneurship educators. There was a great deal of variation in the answers. However, some issues arose time and time again. These were a lack of time, and too few resources (both human and financial). Respondents also repeatedly expressed difficulty in helping those around them understand what enterprise and entrepreneurship in education entails. They wrote answers like: ‘communication – getting the message across’; ‘putting enterprise into context’; ‘colleagues not understanding the term enterprise’; ‘Supporting student[s] and staff to understand what enterprise is’; ‘understanding and buy-in from academia’; ‘Trying to get academics to understand fully what we do and its benefits’.
When asked what their employers / organisations could do to better support individual enterprise and entrepreneurship educators like themselves, the answers given corresponded to the challenges outlined above. Respondents asked for ‘awareness raising and practical support’; ‘more money and time’; ‘expand to allow more time’; ‘obtain funding to do more of it’; ‘greater resource to bring in external experts.’ Training also came up many times in response to this question. Some of the ideas given include: ‘commit more educational resource to entrepreneurship education’; ‘further training within this area’; ‘invest in some appropriate training.’ Another person said: ‘further training and development, having a recognised qualification for the work I do would be great.’
Asked about their own routes to continual professional development, some 35% of the respondents said they had undertaken some formal learning and skills development programmes. However, much higher numbers of people cited discussions with colleagues in their institutions and discussions with peer networks (76% and 80% respectively) as ways in which they’d invested in their own professional development. This suggests there could be both scope and demand for more accredited, formalised learning programmes in the field.
Sarah Trouten, Chief Executive of the IOEE, said:
“I am encouraged to see so many positive responses to this survey and I now look forward to working closely with EEUK to provide professional development and accredited learning opportunities for enterprise educators across the UK.”
Dr Susan Laing, Director of EEUK, added:
“The Enterprise Education Survey provides valuable data for our members to review and consider how best to offer support our community in delivering fit for purpose learning across the UK and beyond in a very dynamic and challenging environment.”
To learn more about the work of Enterprise Educators UK, visit www.enterprise.ac.uk