According to “Entrepreneurship Education and Training Programs Around the World—Dimensions for Success,” a 2014 study of entrepreneurship education programs around the globe by the World Bank, entrepreneurship is “the largest single source of new job growth in both developed and developing economies.” Therefore, a few weeks ago I was thrilled to see this idea in action when I attended the Eastern European regional finals of “Get in the Ring” (GITR), which took place in Sofia, Bulgaria.
A recent episode of NPR’s popular broadcast Morning Edition, deplored the fact that 5.8 million young Americans are neither in school nor work. What’s more, according to the show, in some parts of the United States, “the unemployment rate among 16 to 24 year-olds is more than twice the national unemployment rate, which is currently 6.3 percent.” However, youth unemployment is not only a U.S. problem.
Jam-packed and intense—these are two adjectives I would use to describe the four-day-long Price Babson Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators (SEE), which I had the privilege of participating in this past May. The symposium, which is one of the leading training programs for entrepreneurship educators, had already graduated 33 classes, comprising more than 3200 individuals from over 650 institutions worldwide. As a participant in SEE 34, I had the pleasure to collaborate, brainstorm, and learn from and with 59 other educators from 13 different countries (from the United States and Canada to Thailand, Bahrain, Brazil, and Argentina). Moreover, I spent a significant part of the training in a group.
Bulgaria has the lowest levels of public spending on education in the EU. Many of the school facilities are old and crumbling. There are barely any public funds available for building 21st century classrooms equipped with multi-media facilities and language labs. Moreover, there are no public funds for modernizing the Bulgarian school curriculum or for teacher professional development.
Recently, I facilitated a five-day enrichment seminar in Washington, DC for the participants in the U.S. Academic Immersion Program (USAIP). Sponsored by the America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF), USAIP is a non-degree scholarship program, which places 20 Bulgarian students in select U.S. colleges and universities and provides them with the opportunity to study in the United States for one academic year.
I recently returned from the British Council sponsored conference on Entrepreneurship in Higher Education in Boston. The conference, which featured a variety of speakers from both the U.S. and from across the pond not only explored the role of Entrepreneurship in higher education, but also juxtaposed the British and U.S. approach to teaching entrepreneurship. The bottom line from the conference was that the U.S. is still the undisputed global leader in entrepreneurship education and the U.K. and the rest of the world still have some catching up to do, in particular in regards to creating the right campus environment for fostering entrepreneurship.