New poll says entrepreneurial workforce is critical to America’s future success in global economy

A new report from the Junior Achievement Innovation Initiative (JAII) and Gallup shows that employers (those responsible for hiring decisions) and employees alike believe that America’s workforce needs to become more “entrepreneurial” in order for the country to remain competitive in the global marketplace and that K-12 classrooms are the place to start teaching entrepreneurship. This is in line with President Barack Obama’s call for “entrepreneurship” to be included with “problem-solving” and “critical thinking” as 21st century skills to be incorporated into education standards and assessments.

The Gallup poll of 1,100 employers and employees shows that virtually all of those surveyed (95% of employers; 96% of employees) believe that the American workforce needs to become more entrepreneurial if America is to remain competitive (entrepreneurship was defined as “taking the initiative and assuming risk to create value for the company or business, either as an owner of your own business or in your place of work.”). Nearly half of employees (46%) and employers (41%) felt the best time to learn entrepreneurship is in the K-12 grades, surpassing college (employees 25%; employers 32%) and “on the job” (employees 17%; employers 16%). Only one in 10 (employees 11%; employers 9%) felt entrepreneurship is an innate skill that comes naturally.

To help address the question of how America’s education system can change to foster a more “entrepreneurial workforce,” Junior Achievement formed the Junior Achievement Innovation Initiative. The goal of the Initiative is to conduct research and then incorporate the best thinking of business leaders, workforce development organizations and educators to develop an action plan that Junior Achievement and other organizations can follow to help develop an “entrepreneurial workforce.” Recommended actions from this Initiative include:

• Encourage the concept of filling the "Motivation Gap" with entrepreneurial and experiential learning models that are delivered through schools.

• Use additional research to determine if the promotion of self-motivation can lead to greater demand for a more rigorous and relevant curriculum from schools.

• Help key stakeholders recognize that motivation and mentorship are critical to success of all young people.

• Recognize that both hard skills and life skills are required by an individual to be become marketable and successful.

• Help young people to "learn to learn" and "learn to navigate" our existing education and workforce development systems to obtain those skills they will need to succeed.