30 January 2020
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Education system failing innovation

By Tim Reed

The latest MYOB SME Snapshot has revealed the current education system is failing to foster the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. 

As part of our monthly survey, we quizzed over 400 SMEs about their thoughts around current student learning, and its connection to the success of Australian small businesses.

Almost 60% of those surveyed agreed that the education curriculum is not providing the skills that students need to be entrepreneurial and innovative in the future.

Furthermore, when asked about whether the current education system groomed students for running a business, two thirds of the respondents agreed that it did not. Similarly, almost half felt their own education had not helped them in running their own business today.

It’s no surprise that we are falling behind on the international scale of innovation. A recent study by Microsoft found that 70% of SMEs felt their workplace did not support innovation. Research from NAB revealed a similar result, with only one in 17 businesses in Australia found to be ‘highly innovative’.

There is so much more work we can do to embed innovation in our thinking, culture, and work places. The MYOB results indicate that if we are going to foster innovation and entrepreneurialism, it needs to start with the education system. We need to start developing these skills early, so we can tap the creative potential of the next generation of business leaders.

This future focus on entrepreneurship is crucial to Australia’s economic success, yet roughly more than 40 per cent of SMEs are at risk of failing in the first few years due to poor business management. We need to future-proof our students and ensure they have the skills and confidence they need to not only start their own business, but flourish earlier on in their career.

We found that our SMEs didn’t necessarily believe their university degrees helped them get to where they are today. In fact, roughly 78% of respondents didn’t feel that a degree was required to run a business. 

This shows us that our businesses people are learning on the job and didn’t learn their skills from their school or university studies. We need to start a discussion about fast-tracking our entrepreneurship and teaching more of the skills needed in schools, TAFE, private colleges and universities.

Small business is the backbone of our economy. Our hope is that in the future, there will be more children wanting to be an entrepreneur, alongside a teacher, a firefighter or a lawyer.

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