As a society, and an economy, we need entrepreneurs – people who have what it takes to start, run, and grow a business. Today, when we think of entrepreneurship, we generally think of a distinctive mindset that encompasses a range of skills, including creative problem solving, critical thinking, leadership, resilience, and communication. The need for such skills is growing.
As the world of work continues to change, this style of thinking is becoming essential for all students, regardless of career choice. Unlike the 1970s and 1980s, workers are now rarely with the same organisation for an entire career. There is a strong shift from traditional employment to project-based work, but even individuals who prefer to work inside a company need to think like entrepreneurs. This is one reason leading universities are encouraging students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and build a portfolio of skills and experiences that will open the door to a variety of employment or project opportunities.
Can entrepreneurship be taught?
Although it’s often thought that entrepreneurs are ‘born’, not ‘made,’ Joanne Jacobs, Senior Lecturer and Entrepreneur in Residence within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) strongly supports the view that entrepreneurship can be taught: “No successful entrepreneur in history has relied on their own advice. The way we teach entrepreneurship has changed dramatically. We do much more placement-oriented entrepreneurship teaching. Universities are not fake environments at all. These are real spaces with real businesses.”
In fact, UTS offers over 90 individual subjects across several faculties, covering innovation and entrepreneurship, from ‘Finance for Entrepreneurs’ to ‘Global Entrepreneurship.’ This is based on the principle that equipping students with the tools to become entrepreneurs will be critical to their success.
Advanced entrepreneurship skills and knowledge
UTS also offers students who already have an undergraduate qualification a one-year full-time program, where they can develop an entrepreneurial project. The Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (Honours) is available to graduates of all disciplines.
And in direct response to industry demand, UTS has also created a Diploma in Innovation. The first of its kind in Australia, this course gives students exposure to real-world problems, and is completed while studying another undergraduate degree. Working with a diverse group of fellow students, academics and industry partners students develop the creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship skill highly sought after by government, employers, and society broadly.
To inspire and support students who have an entrepreneurial idea, UTS has created UTS Startups. Applicants who can demonstrate that they have an idea that uses technology to address a large market are eligible to participate if at least one member of the team has studied at UTS within the last 12-months.
A UTS Startup can benefit from a free co-working space, ongoing support from the UTS Startups team (including mentors, funding sources, potential customers and opportunities for find co-founders), connection to industry events, inspirational talks and workshops, and much more.
Murry Hurps, Director of Entrepreneurship at UTS, says UTS Startups is revolutionising the way universities teach entrepreneurship. “Education systems don’t always put entrepreneurship on the map,” he said. “At UTS, we show students that entrepreneurship is a normal, desirable and accessible thing. We help them take the first steps on their entrepreneurial journey.”
The need for entrepreneurship is not limited to countries like Australia. In developing economies, such as Nepal, there is also a growing demand for people with entrepreneurial skills. At the 2019 Entrepreneurship Summit, held in Kathmandu, President Bidya Devi Bhandari said that Nepal should promote entrepreneurship to create employment opportunities within the country. She also stressed the importance of investing in youths with new ideas, creating an investment-friendly environment, and promoting vocational education and training to promote entrepreneurship in the country.
A university precinct where startups can thrive
UTS has responded to the growing demand for entrepreneurial skills and startup experience by working closely with businesses, industry, city and state governments and other stakeholders to drive innovation; bringing together startups, incubators, research, education and public policy institutions.
In keeping with the principle that a university should support and lead its local community, UTS has redeveloped its campus, investing in high-tech spaces such as the Data Arena, Tech Lab, and ProtoSpace.
This is another way UTS is contributing to Sydney’s rapid transformation into a world class innovation, technology and creative precinct.
Glen Wightwick, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Innovation and Enterprise, says, “We are excited to witness and be part of the explosion in entrepreneurship and startup activity, driven by emerging tech and the thriving ecosystem around us. With more than 40 per cent of our students wanting to create their own career pathways – either by founding a startup or working in one – we are committed to providing an environment to support this. We plan to ensure 50 per cent of our students have the opportunity to participate in some sort of entrepreneurship experience.”
The pathway to UTS
UTS Insearch offers leading academic English programs, UTS Foundation Studies and higher education diplomas designed with UTS entry requirements in mind. As the pathway to UTS, it welcomes students from Australia and overseas, and prepares students to enter their UTS bachelor degree, in some cases fast-tracking into the second year (depending on the course chosen).
Like UTS, UTS Insearch is based in the heart of Sydney’s startup precinct, and its programs encourage the development of entrepreneurial skills such as critical thinking, communication and leadership in its students. It prepares students to success at university and beyond.