15 July 2019

World Youth Skills Day: Want young people to succeed in life and work? Lead with entrepreneurial skills and mindset

15 July 2019 - We all know that the world we live in is changing. World Youth Skills Day gives us a chance to take a targeted look at what skills young people need to succeed in careers and contribute to local and global economies.

As we grapple with the effects of disruptive technology on the labor force, it is no surprise that there is a heightened focus on developing technical and digital skills. Yet, equipping the youth of today for lifelong learning and the future of work can be accomplished by unlocking an entrepreneurial mindset.

From the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report to ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work, we are seeing an international call to action on developing 21st century skills in today’s workforce and the importance of “soft skills,” what many people call an entrepreneurial mindset. If a worker does not possess critical thinking or creativity, or cannot communicate effectively, they will not be able to keep pace with learning new technologies and pivoting their careers to accommodate the changing economic landscape.

In our quest to train more people with tech skills, there is a concern that we are signaling to society, and our educational institutions, that what matters above all is technical mastery. In the process, we are devaluing the very things that led us to develop these technologies in the first place.

What if there was another approach? If you spur entrepreneurial thinking at a young age, the rest will follow. As a leading entrepreneurship education youth organization working in under-resourced communities, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), believes that through developing an original business idea, based on a project-based learning model and lean startup practices, young people can activate the entrepreneurial mindset.

We see our students become more comfortable navigating change, more innovative and willing to take risks and try new things, all the while developing their technical abilities through the creation of a financial statement, a digital marketing plan and other business essentials.

We are also beginning to measure the entrepreneurial mindset and, most importantly, empower youth with meaningful data to create awareness on strengths and areas of improvement across these non-traditional skills. Through our research on entrepreneurial mindset, we have developed an assessment to measure eight mindset domains.  All NFTE students receive a personalized report from the assessment, and we hope to scale this tool beyond NFTE in the near future.

NFTE is not alone in calling for entrepreneurship education at a young age, nor is entrepreneurship the only “right” model to engender social-emotional learning and skills. There needs to be more conversation around the importance of soft skills, and we need to see more parents and educators championing the goal of growing (and measuring) entrepreneurial mindset in young people. We also need to see leaders and policymakers enacting and ensuring equitable access to initiatives that foster this type of learning. Entrepreneurship can jumpstart youth, empowering them with the combination of skillsets we increasingly need to thrive in the workplace.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is an international non-profit organization providing entrepreneurship training and education programs to young people from low-income communities. Sophia Rodriguez is the Director of Research & Analytics at NFTE and can be reached at SophiaR@nfte.com if you’d like to learn more about the entrepreneurial mindset education.

To learn more about the entrepreneurial mindset, check out NFTE’s website.

You can learn more about World Youth Skills Day here

To test your knowledge of World Youth Skills Day, take the UNAI Quiz!

To learn more about Emotional Intelligence and other soft skills, watch the UNAI video series on EQ!