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Are We Supporting The Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs In Australia?

29/03/2017 1:45 PM AEDT | Updated 29/03/2017 1:45 PM AEDT

There was once a time when you'd tell someone you're an entrepreneur and, chances are, they would smile encouragingly but not take you too seriously -- perhaps they'd think you're a bit of a dreamer, that you couldn't get a job.

These days, the thinking has shifted. Thanks to the examples of homegrown companies like Thankyou Group and Shoes of Prey, entrepreneurialism is considered a dynamic career path, full of opportunity for young people growing up in Australia.

It's a presiding theme during Global Money Week, celebrated this week, which considers the entrepreneurial training of young children and their potential to build businesses. So how has Australia embraced entrepreneurialism? How are we educating our next generation of thinkers to support their careers in the years to come? And what more can we do?

Aligning to future growth markets

Changing mindsets is often one of the hardest and most important parts of the puzzle, but the need to support innovative thinking in this country has been validated by respected research into future trends.

A Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) report, Tomorrow's Digitally Enabled Workforce, reported that digital technology and "platform economics" are changing employment markets and organisational structures.

It predicts the world of STEM will be of increased importance, and it says that people will become more entrepreneurial and create their own jobs.

Protecting our place as a global competitor

Meanwhile the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia's major research report, Australia's Future Workforce, predicts that digitisation and automation will replace more than five million Australian jobs over the next 10 to 15 years.

As both reports consider digitalisation, they pose the question: how, then, do we remain a global competitor? We create a culture of innovation, says Chief Executive Professor, the Hon. Stephen Martin.

"Creating a culture of innovation must be driven by the private sector, educational institutions and government. Government must lead the way with clear and detailed education, innovation and technology policies that are funded adequately."

Changing the tides of tech

While government undoubtedly has its role to play with regard to formal education, we can all lead by example when inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.

I see great changes already taking place in the private sector. Offices like ours enable a flexible work environment, so thinking is not constrained to a desk. We support unconscious bias training, and provide personality assessments to encourage collaboration and diversity of thought. We run hackathons and lightning talks. We work fast, study our trip-ups and go again.

And as a father of three, I've watched the spark of entrepreneurialism start to alter the school environment too. My children are invited to hackathons; my daughters are invited to computing coding sessions for girls. I've watched teams of school children come into our office to pitch new apps that will solve a social problem.

Create the code

I want my children to grow up knowing that they have the power to create change. And to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurialism, we need to lead by example. We need to support entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, in big businesses and small.

We need to create the code rather than play by the rules.

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