To ensure that a strong current of entrepreneurial talent is continuously emerging in the United States, policies must jump-start the stagnant rate of new entrepreneurs, equitably grow the next generation of business owners, and develop employees with entrepreneurial capabilities. To do this, policymakers should:
- Develop data infrastructure at the federal and state levels that enable accountability measures to evaluate student outcomes beyond high school, providing insights and opportunities to redesign student experiences and competencies to equip students to be entrepreneurial and to demonstrate their acquired skills and experiences, whether they are creating a business themselves or making contributions as employees and community members.
- Provide students with real world learning experiences and industry-recognized credentials. These credentials are assets that are immediately market-valued, created through client- and community-based projects, entrepreneurial experiences, and internships.
- Give students opportunities to explore design thinking and prototyping to solve a market and/or social problem.
- Ensure all students complete high school having acquired basic financial literacy skills through direct experiences relevant to life and work.
- Examine how state agencies can better collaborate, collect appropriate data, provide curriculum and credit flexibility, and allow for alternative teacher certification pathways that provide students with access to professionals who are working or have worked in an area of interest.
- Monitor state funding formula implications that support or incentivize real world learning within districts.
- Monitor and evolve federal grant programs that have been adjusted to support four-year, two-year, and qualified credentialing acquisition for students.
- Ensure local entities work closely with employers, especially new businesses, on alignment of curriculum to current and emerging workforce needs in order to ensure equity of access to employer-based learning opportunities.
- Research has shown that with appropriate course content, entrepreneurial education and training in kindergarten through college is linked to positive business outcomes.
- A meta-analysis found a significant relationship between entrepreneurship education and training and corresponding entrepreneurship outcomes.
Real World Learning Initiative
The Real World Learning Initiative, centered in the Kansas City region, is a collaborative of more than 30 districts and charters in both Kansas and Missouri. National education leader Tom Vander Ark has called it “the largest effort to make high school more valuable.” The regional partners, including civic, business, and educational institutions, are all aligned around one commitment: By 2030, all high school students in the region will graduate with a market value asset. Every school is engaged in redesigning its curriculum to ensure that students have opportunities in real world learning experiences such as internships, client-connected projects, dual credit, regionally vetted industry-recognized credentials, and entrepreneurial experiences. These experiences and connections to employers build the essential skills students need to be successful in work, life, and further education.