Why we need Enterprise and Intrapreneurship more than ever in Further Education.

This crisis has been devastating in so many ways, including its impact on businesses & our young people’s education and future prospects.

In FE and HE we have always pushed an employability agenda, working with employers to ensure our students are ready for the world of work. But we have to ask, is what we’ve been doing going to meet the challenges of the employment landscape of the future?

It brings me back to and area I still believe doesn’t get the attention or standing it should - enterprise education – something I’ve believed in for a number of years and I try to embed and encourage at all levels of education I’ve worked in.

Now, starting a business is often niche in mainstream education, many students will be more focused on achieving a graduate job or the next level of study, potential start-ups may come further down the line. But, one area still (in my opinion) not explored enough is intrapreneurship.

So, what is an Intrapreneur? Richard Branson noted in 2011 -

‘’Many millions of people proudly claim the title "entrepreneur." On the other hand, a title that hasn't gotten nearly the amount of attention it deserves is entrepreneur's little brother, "intrapreneur": "an employee who is given freedom and financial support to create new products, services and systems, who does not have to follow the company's usual routines or protocols."

While it's true that every company needs an entrepreneur to get it under way, healthy growth requires a smattering of intrapreneurs who drive new projects and explore new and unexpected directions for business development.’’

As Richard identified above, for companies to thrive they often rely on empowered, creative and determined employees who see problems, opportunities and are passionate about taking a company to the next step. During this crisis we have seen just how creative and quick thinking our businesses are, often re-developing or pivoting their operations to meet new demand or attract a different audience

How do we bring this into education?

It’s right that we ensure students can complete CV’s, cover letters and know how to prepare for interviews, but how can we bring in an intrapreneurial tint to these activities? For me, it’s about ensuring all students have access to enterprising activities and content during their time studying.

Most students, especially in my area of Grimsby will go on to work in a small or medium size business, where there may not be a marketing department or HR team – where ultimately you wear 5 different hats and often you find yourself helping  in every area of the business, with everyday providing a new challenge.

Our students  have excellent skills already in key areas like like social media, digital technology and have a creative streak that allows them to think on their feet. We have to encourage, nurture and ensure students on all courses understand what makes a whole business tick and how these skills will be vital to them being successful.

Things don’t have to be complicated; it may be that students have challenges set around business problem solving, digital marketing campaigns or business finance tasks. They are involved in research & development tasks related to their industry or they partake in a full enterprise module.

In 2014 Lord Young noted in his Enterprise for All report that;

‘’We have many excellent further education colleges that produce hundreds of thousands of young people with highly employable skills, but my research has found that only a small number of college courses prepare their students for self- employment or setting up a business.

In fact many graduates, be they plumbers, plasterers, hairdressers or many of the other skills acquired in a further education college, may well want to start working for themselves. That is why I am recommending that all courses should include a core module on starting a business so that all graduates will leave with the necessary skills. ‘’

Now, I would like to think FE has taken this message on board in the last 6 years, but I am a firm believer that more can always be done.

Our colleges are vital in developing this next generation of intrapreneurs, ready for whatever the future brings.