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Kids Aspire To Be Entrepreneurs, But Aren't Getting The Education Or Experience They Need

Entrepreneur Education

First Posted: 10/13/2011 8:11 pm Updated: 12/13/2011 5:12 am

The next generation certainly isn't lacking aspirations to be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. What these kids are lacking, however, is educational opportunities to help them fulfill their dreams of business ownership.

According to a Gallup poll released Thursday, 77 percent of students say they want to be their own boss, 45 percent say they want to start their own business and 42 percent say they will invent something that changes the world.

The study of 1,721 kids in grades 5 through 12, released in partnership with Operation HOPE, revealed that most students have not only the ambition, but also the qualities necessary to be entrepreneurs. Ninety-one percent say they aren't afraid to take risks even if they might fail, 91 percent say that their mind never stops, and 85 percent say they never give up.

But while their minds are willing, their preparation is weak. The Gallup-HOPE Index found that many aren't getting the education or the practical experience they need to start businesses. High school students had more access to entrepreneurial training: Sixty-four percent from grades 9 through 12 say their school offers classes on how to start and run a business, compared to 37 percent in grades 5 through 8. As far as experience, 33 percent say their parents or guardians have started a business, while only 5 percent are currently interning with a local business. Four percent say they already own their own business. Many don't even have work experience yet -- only one in five of the students had worked for one hour or more at a paying job in the previous week.

While gaps in education may squelch many kids' entrepreneurial goals, it could also spell future problems for startups and small businesses seeking tech talent. An estimated 1.4 computing related jobs will be added in the U.S. by 2018, according to recent data from the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Meanwhile, the number of college graduates with computer or information sciences degrees has been steadily decreasing since 2004. With schools unable to produce skilled tech workers, the research found that U.S. graduates will be able to fill only about 60 percent of the vacant computing jobs in 2018.

"If entrepreneurship education can create jobs, prevent students from dropping out and provide economic freedom for people in our low-income communities, why aren't we teaching it in every high school across the country?" Steve Marriotti, founder of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), recently wrote in The Huffington Post. "As a nation, we are failing to give our children the tools they need to stay committed to their education, and breaking the cycle now is more important than ever."

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