Reasons we focus on teaching enterprising skills to students
Enterprising skills capture a range of qualities and abilities – from risk taking, to communication, problem solving and much more. Enterprise is a mindset. It’s a bold and courageous mindset, at that.
If you were to ask a company what behaviours and competencies they expected from their employees, they would likely mention proactivity, initiative, interpersonal skills and presentation skills.
All of these important employability and life skills are developed naturally through enterprise education.
So why don’t we teach enterprise at school?
Firstly, it’s not easy to measure enterprise. 2 + 2 = 4 and if you put magnesium in water it catches fire.
But who would have predicted that an online bookstore would become a global corporate superpower a quarter of a century later?
There is no right answer in enterprise, as there is in mathematics or science. It’s difficult to judge a good idea from a bad, because it usually just comes down to product/market fit. One (wo)man’s junk is another (wo)man’s treasure as they say.
Enterprise requires the learner to develop different cognitive muscles. It’s less about remembering and understanding information, or even applying that knowledge. Instead, it requires learners to ideate and create.
The creation process does not lend itself to traditional methods of assessment. But it is possible to measure creativity and innovation.
How can you measure creativity?
Pose a problem and ask the learner to think of a solution.
Once they’ve thought of one, ask them to think of another solution that is distinctly different from the first. And then another, and another, and so on.
The teacher measures the cognitive process that the learner uses to create many different solutions, rather than the quality of the solutions themselves. The more distinct (but valid) the solutions, the greater the creative skill.
Engineers are rigid and non-creative. Right?
Wrong. Traditional engineering courses may not allow learners the freedom to demonstrate their creativity easily, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be creative.
Enterprise education creates a safe and empowering environment for learners to explore and develop their creativity. In a traditionally “macho” industry, this safe space becomes all the more important.
Focusing on the creative process can increase an engineer’s tolerance for new ideas that challenge the status quo, paving the way for diversity of thought and expression. This leads to more inclusive, high performing teams that address the needs of the customer, rather than simply taking the path of least resistance.
Fail fast, learn fast
The UK education system enforces a perception that failure is unacceptable. To undertake A-levels, you must get good GCSE grades and to go to University you must get good A-level grades.
You are competing with hundreds of thousands of other young people trying to achieve the same thing, and we can’t all be winners. And to add insult to injury, all pathways outside of the linear academic route are complex, confusing, and provision is patchy.
At least they were, until OPUS by iungo arrived.
But what do we perceive to be wrong about failing? It’s rarely the end of the road. In fact, it’s usually merely a blip in the road, or a change of track. It’s important that young people fail, recognise failure, and develop the skills needed to cope with and bounce back from failure.
Enterprise education teaches you to fail, and fail fast. Creative ideas are tested with potential customers, redeveloped and refined to satisfy customer requirements. This process has to happen quickly, or the market opportunity could be lost to the player with the First Mover Advantage.
This skill is important for engineers for two reasons: failure is a fundamental feature of iterative product development, and experiencing failure develops resilience and risk appetite.
Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship
We’re all familiar with the Elon Musks and the Steve Jobs of the entrepreneurial world. Developing enterprising skills provides the first step on the path to entrepreneurship. Less well known, is the path to intrapreneurship.
As our economy begins to recover from the global pandemic, businesses will innovate and create new products and services to meet the needs of a new post-covid society.
Businesses who endeavour to not only survive but thrive in this environment will invest in intrapreneurial talent. The forward thinking, risk taking, technically skilled professionals driven to succeed by passion and purpose. Engineers equipped with enterprising skills fit the bill for this new class of empowered employee.
At iungo, we’ve developed an entrepreneurial (and intrapreneurial) pathway for engineers. With courses available at levels 2, 3, 5 and 6, we’re helping engineers to develop transferable enterprise skills whilst discovering an entirely new career pathway.
These courses aren’t just for engineering students.
We’re working with businesses to develop an intrapreneurial culture that enables them to innovate and create sustainable competitive advantage through their enterprising talent.
To find out more, visit: https://iungo.solutions/enterprising-engineers
Or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org