Reinforcing business education at school
President Park Geun-hye and her government envision new growth engines through the creative economy. The keystone to the agenda is promoting start-ups. The government has been active in supporting venture start-ups through the Small and Medium Business Administration and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. The Ministry of Education also has joined with 66 universities to promote start-up incubation centers on campuses.
But there must be investment and interest on a more fundamental level: teaching youth entrepreneurship. The United States, Britain and Israel are all strong in innovation and venture start-ups. The three countries all included training for youth entrepreneurship in the national agenda when their per capita income exceeded $20,000 - in 1988 for the United States, 1996 for Britain and 2005 for Israel. The European Union in the 2006 Oslo agenda advised member countries to include entrepreneurship courses in the school curriculum. About half of all EU members teach entrepreneurship in elementary schools and two-thirds have the course as a compulsory subject in middle and high school syllabi. More than 30 percent of American high school students take entrepreneurship or start-up courses.
These countries are not teaching the course to promote start-ups. The educational goal is to learn the important factors of an entrepreneurial mind-set, such as risk-taking and team spirit. Early learning on challenges related to behavior, creativity, drive, independence, problem-solving and business intelligence can be a lasting asset for young people in whatever field they choose for their career.
Youth entrepreneurship in Korea is led in part by the business program of the Small and Medium Business Administration and its umbrella Korea Institute of Startup and Entrepreneurship Development. The business course is available in just 200 schools, or 1.8 percent of elementary, middle and high schools around the country. The course is also offered as an extracurricular program. In this way, we cannot catch up with advanced nations in business entrepreneurship.
Korea must expand business education and consider including the subject as a regular school course. Business school programs should be available in more high schools. The aim is not to encourage young people to go out and start their own businesses, but foster a business mind-set and qualities. American consultant and author Peter Drucker famously said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Teaching entrepreneurship to teenagers would be the best way to help young people create their future.
Kim Jin-soo, Professor of business management at Chung-Ang University