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Role of educational institutes in inculcating entrepreneurship skills

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Apart from the ideation to the creation, start-ups these days have become so successful that millenials are becoming millionaires in no time. Dr. Pratima Sheorey, Director - Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development, writes about how educational institutes can help inculcate the necessary skills

Former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam once pointed out that the greatest asset of India is its nearly 650 million youth, which no other democratic nation in the world possessed. Youth today, he said, have fewer biases about society and hence, are easy to motivate. With a population of almost 65% in the age group between 25-35 years, India shows a huge potential in contributing to the PM’s dream of ‘Start up India’. This will not only benefit our country in terms of GDP growth but also help create more employment opportunities in the future.

Inspite of the fact that the talent pool and potential in our country is huge, India still faces the problem where entrepreneurs do not have proper guidance. A lot of upcoming entrepreneurs do not even come from a business family, where they would have received some informal training, so for them business nitty- gritty and decision-making becomes tough. This lack of knowledge and uncertainty of success are the reasons that Indian middle class families do not encourage their children to become entrepreneurs. This is where universities and/or B-Schools play a major role in teaching courses that actively promote entrepreneurship. Aspiring students should take up entrepreneurship courses where they can view the college as a place to network with potential investors and partners. Many of the entrepreneurs, in fact, meet their partners in college itself. Entrepreneurship programs play a strong role in highlighting the advantages of self-employment and fruitful pursuit of dreams so that students can make an informed decision about their future. B-school education should not be just theoretical but act as an enabler and create the environment needed by a budding entrepreneur to understand industry expectations and work accordingly.

Entrepreneurship development is becoming a priority in most Indian B- Schools. It allows students to gain expertise and create various opportunities for themselves.

The objectives of entrepreneurship education in B-Schools should be to introduce the students to the concept of entrepreneurship by giving them the right environment to do so. They should also help them by inculcating in them the willingness to take risks and accept challenges in life. This would entail increasing the students’ knowledge about setting up and managing a new business. Some of the ways in which entrepreneurship skills can be inculcated among the students are listed below:

Focus on case studies and simulations
Case studies and simulations like ‘Capstone’ and ‘Markstrat’ are an excellent way to teach students the problems which real life businesses would have faced. It gives them an idea about the various solutions to different problems and helps spur the curiosity in them to solve problems. High quality case studies by Harvard and Ivey provide the problem backed by factual data for students to ponder over and solve them. Simulations provide a simulated business environment to students and they in turn act as strategists and decision makers for their companies to solve realistic problems and enhance their business acumen. Most of the top B-Schools in India are resorting to using more tools to enable experiential learning like simulations and live projects. The main focus being – ‘Learning by Doing”.

Create opportunities for student participation
Competitions like Reliance – The Ultimate Pitch, B-Plan help students to pitch their ideas to top industrial brains as a group. These groups have students with different acumen and skill set who come together and showcase their business idea and USP. The combined acumen gives them a chance to explore different sectors and ideas and present this in front of seed funding people. Once these students are done with their college degrees, they can focus on their start-up idea which they had worked on during their post-graduation.

Invite industry experts to give lectures
Some B-schools have made this a part of their course to invite industry experts to deliver lectures and make full presentations of their subject. This helps them provide a real time industry overview of the subject. This also helps the students build strong connect with the industry professionals who can help them and mentor them once they graduate.

Focus on technology topics in curricula
Technology and big data analytics is an integral part of today’s global culture. Incorporating technology relevant topics and information can help jump-start a student’s career.  The idea here is not to fill the academic programs with coding and hardware courses but to teach strategic ways in which entrepreneurs and companies are incorporating technology to innovate, communicate and grow. Blended learning along with encouragement from faculty, will help students become the next ‘Alibaba founders’.

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