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All aboard the much misunderstood enterprise wagon…

David Cameron is again pushing forward the value of enterprise – specifically the responsibility of you, me and all in the country to dig in and stimulate economic growth (BBC News online, 6th March 2011). Reading between the lines, this means ‘if the economy and society fails, it’s your fault for not using your own initiative and starting your own business’. In this sense, the sceptics among us are starting to see enterprise as a very dirty word. In addition to this, some academic literature is very critical of enterprise education in schools, interpreting it as simply a means to reinforce a neo-liberal agenda – it’s everyone for themselves and the responsibility is on you to take on the risk usually afforded to government.


Yeah - enterprise is about folders and offices and, er wait... (image courtesy of

What worries me about these assumptions and uses of the term enterprise is that they are masking the very valuable human benefits of this approach. The benefits aren’t just about making money (dear coalition government) or about racking up a male-oriented work force (dear feminist academics). Enterprise and enterprise education in it’s wider sense can be massively effective in building people’s confidence and abilities to stand on their own two feet and manage risks. It’s not about encouraging start ups full-stop, it’s about introducing another means of teaching and learning that can help facilitate improved skills. attitudes and aspirations in life. It can also offer young people another way to develop a sense of themselves and what they are capable of and how this translates to paid work or self-employment. If only we could get away from this negative labelling…


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