Young: Creating an entrepreneurial culture starts with education

For a considerable period of time now I have been motivated to write about the growing entrepreneurial culture in our beautiful Okanagan region.

Encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit is a key to creating jobs and improving the competitiveness and economic growth throughout the Okanagan.

Although some may argue that variables like the number of new start-ups or the psychological attitude of our regional population towards self-employment  may be influenced by a number of different factors, there is unquestionably a cultural aspect that needs to be taken into account.

The image of entrepreneurs as positive role models has never been as strong in Canada as in the U.S.

For Canadians, becoming an entrepreneur at times has been seen as an unsafe and risky option, not particularly appealing and less socially rewarding than other, more traditional professions and careers.

The educational systems have not, in the past, been geared towards the development of entrepreneurship, but rather the self-employment option, the final goal of the educational path being to produce employees for a big company or public administration.

However, I’m very happy to report that, over the last number of years, the game has changed dramatically—there is a growing awareness in Canada that multi-faceted initiatives should be, must be developed in order to promote an entrepreneurial culture, to encourage risk-taking, creativity and innovation.

Entrepreneurship has been rekindled as an engine and basis for socio-economic growth and reach out folks, because it is here to stay.

As a result, the importance of entrepreneurship as one of the basic skills to be provided through lifelong learning is genuinely recognized today.

The Okanagan, and indeed our province,  needs to foster the entrepreneurial drive more effectively.

We need more new and thriving firms willing to embark on creative and innovative ventures.

Encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit is a key to achieving these objectives.

Education can contribute to encouraging entrepreneurship, by fostering the right attitudinal and behavioural mindset, by raising awareness of potential opportunities as an entrepreneur or a self-employed person, and providing the right venture creation skills.

When we speak of creating an entrepreneurial culture in the valley, we first must recognize that entrepreneurial skills and attitudes provide benefits to our regional society, beyond just their application to new venture/business activities.

Personal qualities that are relevant to entrepreneurship, such as creativity and a spirit of initiative, can be useful to absolutely everyone in their working activity and daily life.

But that philosophy being said, we have not yet led to making entrepreneurship a common feature or a widespread subject in our education systems, nor has the training of our teachers on how to bring the concept of entrepreneurship into the classroom been sufficiently explored.

The establishment of indicators and the collection of qualitative and quantitative data in this field is also still lacking as it pertains to our region, making it difficult to monitor any progress that may be achieved.

So only by working together—all of the relevant economic and social organizations alike—will we be able to promote the development of entrepreneurial attitudes and skills in our Okanagan society.

This will offer, in the longer term the clarity toward the creation of an Okanagan Valley entrepreneurship culture which will be our collective legacy to creating more jobs and improving economic growth and prosperity for the many years to come.

Creating an entrepreneurial culture is about, in part, instilling a way of thinking, doing and believing.

It’s not that difficult but it doesn’t happen just because we may include “we will be entrepreneurs”  in our vocabulary.

An entrepreneurial culture is created to a significant degree by our collaborative spirit and leadership.

But, please don’t think that I am implying that all of us need to be an inspirational, as the most effective entrepreneurial leaders who set the tone toward a cultural creation are those who merely set a good example toward what our world may become under the guise of an entrepreneurial culture environment.

So let us please embrace the notion that in an entrepreneurial culture, work is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle.

Our environment might present more than a team approach, but even as a family of like-minded, committed individuals who embrace the meaning of attitude and innovative behaviour. Lets make a difference together.

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