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New venture skills as citizenship skills

New venture skills as citizenship skills

10 March 2021

Value of entrepreneurial education

I have a passionate commitment to making new venture creation skills a citizenship skill and available to all, writes Dr Inge Hill. I believe entrepreneurial education (QAA, 2018) prepares individuals to live a rewarding, self-determined professional life and, currently, Lord Young’s call for ‘Enterprise for all’ is far from being realised.

None more so than in rural areas.     

As a former business strategy consultant and freelance adviser for Business Link, I know how underdeveloped skills in innovation are in rural businesses, and it is here where NICRE can make a difference.

Role of NICRE

I was a panel speaker for ‘Developing future entrepreneurs’ at the January Westminster Business Forum ‘Priorities for supporting new businesses to start and scale up in the UK’ - and these discussions of entrepreneurial mindsets and business support link directly to my role as co-investigator at NICRE.

As a newly-developed research centre and partnership between four universities, NICRE streamlines its efforts into strengthening the evidence base and informing policy makers on business support needs for rural businesses. The centre’s impacts are categorised into the four Ps – business practices, people, policies, and places. NICRE addresses the ‘Levelling Up agenda’ via focusing on developing the rural economy with our innovation project funding for local business networks in our three regions – the Southwest, West Midlands and the North East. As the Royal Agricultural University lead for NICRE, I am delighted about the focus on rural innovation and business support our centre is taking, and fully embrace the collaborative practices we develop.

Need for new jobs 

I believe the main reasons for the continued need to mentor support start-ups and established SMEs are (see also my book, Start-Up) as a result of three types of interruptions. These are natural and technological international disasters, stock exchange ‘crashes’ and pandemics which have increased over the last 40 years and have negatively impacted the economy. There is no sign that the occurrence of these events will cease, and consequences always involve industry restructuring and redundancies. The need for new jobs increases the need for new ventures.

I am concerned for those whom have never learnt skills needed for innovative new venture creation/freelancing. Translating the skills of individuals into freelance work would not only help individuals (mentally and economically), but also the economy. Hence, I believe every individual should develop an entrepreneurial mindset to increase their employment options. As a director for Enterprise Educators UK, I make a contribution to this effort. I would like to see increased government investment, so that everyone can develop an entrepreneurial mindset, aligned with Lord Young’s agenda. Developing entrepreneurial mindsets and associated skills need to be mainstreamed into curricula (see my blog) and made a nationwide citizenship skill!

At the RAU we develop leaders of small and medium-sized businesses: RAU alumna Kate Drury has just been elected as the first woman to the British Wool board, which will raise the profile of small sheep farmers and producers, amongst other things.

At the forum I was impressed by Rebecca Seeley Harris’ passionate contributions where she highlighted that the self-employed are often overlooked in statistics and academic research, though they contribute X to the economy. Crucially, freelancing numbers have doubled amongst university graduates: from 2017-18, 3.1% were engaged in freelance work, compared to 1.3% running a business (Prospect, 2020).

Raise visibility of rural self-employed

We need to raise the visibility of the self-employed, particularly in rural areas. One of NICRE’s workstreams I am committed to considers rural creative industries, a subsector with many self-employed professionals. We academics have a role in raising the profile of their economic contribution through research and publications and NICRE is considering the contribution of the self-employed in forthcoming research.

To keep up to date with developments, follow us on Twitter @NICRErural or if you have queries email


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