Based on the report by Mary Hooker of GESCI.
The seven theses on youth entrepreneurship that have emerged from GESCI-AKE Creative Media Venture have been featured in this blog in two posts: One describing the findings; another highlighting some expert reflections on the theses.
The theses were also discussed at the AKE-GESCI 2017 Policy Forum on the 29th of March, 2017. The purpose was to converse about the critical link between skills development/ learning, innovation, entrepreneurship and enterprise development and how a supportive policy environment is a requirement for national digitally-driven skills development. The Forum included demos, expert discussions, as well as an intensive teamwork – workshop session on based on the seven theses. In addition, an eight thesis was added to the list, that of employment and active job creation.
This post is a summary of the essential policy suggestions emerging from the workshop and reflecting the theses. Those insights highlight that, in fact, two theses seem to be the core foundations that define other aspects essential to youth entrepreneurship. Those are flexibility and collaboration.
For instance, it was noted that training needs to transform from a “course format” to an ongoing support that is flexible and responds to the growth and needs of the young entrepreneurs. It was also noted that the Hub needs to be an agile space, transforming as a response to different needs of the student, members, industry, and technology changes.
As for collaboration, it is important to note that the multi-stakeholder Forum was found highly relevant to one’s industry and work by almost every participant. The attendees of the Forum highlighted several forms of support to young entrepreneurs that they would find beneficial for their company or industry, ranging from internships and mentorships to providing case studies and sponsorships. This is perhaps one of the most clear indicators that the GESCI-AKE model is working: It is approaching training the way that resonates with the ultimate “end-user”: Potential employers and clients.
Theses 1 & 2: Flexible Education & Context
Contextual, flexible approach to learning was made concrete by several practical suggestions. Perhaps the most tangible one the concept of project-based, problem- or opportunity-focused targeted projects as learning environments. But what should the opportunities or challenges to be solved be? For this, collaboration between sectors and stakeholders is a must so that the opportunities and problems can truly reflect reality. But what is needed even more fundamentally is a mindset change and advocacy for alternative educational-biz oriented models. Peer-to-peer learning, problem-solving, internships and mentorships need both financial as well as ideological support.
Theses 3 & 4: Digital and Physical Space and Entrepreneurship
Curriculum geared towards, and informed by ,the needs of the market mean that education includes life skills, interdisciplinary education, as well as access to digital tools. But only consultation and learning from policy, industry, research and practitioner chains can inform investment in ICT and new models and spaces for capacity building and training: Is the space reflecting what is happening in the industry? It is hard to imagine that any hub or organization could independently be able to create such a space, so, again, education and Business regulatory frameworks oriented towards start-ups key.
Theses 5 & 6: Collaboration and Finding a Niche
Collaboration is a science and an art form. Very few teams work creatively and smoothly without specific frameworks. Hence, education for youth entrepreneurship needs to include models of collaboration, projects, and processes (including innovation ideas, prototyping, marketing, mentoring, partnerships etc.). In order for this to be “mainstreamed”, new policies supporting upscaling and disseminating working models of edu-biz capacity building models (like the AKE model and its niche focus on Cultural and Creative Media industry) must be set in place.
Theses 7 & 8: Continuous Support, Employment & Job Creation
The shift from “once-off-training” to continuous support systems for youth training and retraining outreach via models and labs linked to industry sectors needs leaders, leadership, in order to happen. One option suggested is a “value chain” of training, envisioned in the policy form as follows: