The Next Wave of Education : Grooming Entrepreneurs
Education systems worldwide have often been brought into the limelight by corporate and academic experts for not being to generate “ market-ready “ , or “employable “ candidates to join the already growing work force . This fact must be , and surely is being highlighted in the case of India where 50% of the population is under the age of 20 –21 . Neither will current curriculum nor companies knock your door to to bring out the entrepreneurs in students. It is up to us – the academia and more importantly - students to assess for the society and to realize what it is ,that is really the need of the hour in the years to come and generations to follow.
Mark Twain had once said “I've never let my school interfere with my education.”
Education systems worldwide have often been brought into the limelight by corporate and academic experts for not being to generate “ market-ready “ , or “employable “ candidates to join the already growing work force . This fact must be , and surely is being highlighted in the case of India where 50% of the population is under the age of 20 –21 .
IT – Enabled Services (ITES) oriented firms , service oriented software companies , and cleverly classified outsourced delivery centers would rather not come to your institute or local learning center to bring out entrepreneurs. Multinational Software Vendors prefer to discuss selling deals rather than discussing how their students can develop the same software . You cannot expect this from them ,and that is not their intentions either but it not for our interest that this point is overlooked by the authorities running our institutions . There have been incentives such as Microsoft ‘s Imagine Cup , Novell ‘s Opensource project program ,and similar program by other companies which allow candidates to expand on more innovative projects that are on par with those rest of the world ,that encourage them to some day start an enterprise based on their idea’s . So I speak for the society , when I say that dual priorities being focused upon by administrative powers of universities country wide , will take some time to realize what it is that is really the need of the hour in the years to come .
The situation needs if not nothing a thought for the sake of generations to follow and an increased urgency to arrest the notion of graduates from Tier-II and lower cities that they cannot be innovative and build careers and business’s out of their towns . Let me confess on reasonable possibility that looms our educational hallrooms. However intense the industry – academic alliances being built, do not expect companies to nurture your students with all the skills required to run their own organization. How much ever investment goes into funding research or plugging in the latest software environments, students and institutions together need to understand that the product of education today is very vaguely defined . The reliability of succeeding today does not end with scoring marks alone .You could pass out ,and find your junior from English class two ranks above you . Topping a particular subject ,you could in all probability end up with a job in no way related to your studies . Your favourite past time could be a major post graduate topic of research abroad ,but in class is nothing but another “doodle”. You could be a artist ,but never be recognised until you move to a location or peer group that promotes such work . Which brings us to an interesting concept . Must all those who take the road less taken ,must those who want to break the shackles of conventional beurocracy work against their immediate society rather than work with it ? This could in a way explain why a lot of entrepreneurs over the years have had to migrate to bigger cities , and to other countries even in the name of “more opportunities” . If educational systems can identify it, and provide this vaccum of “opportunity” - then the road less taken could be very well be the one to their local school . Then , we no doubt would have shown more reasons to stay in India and help its micro - economy grow .And all this very well could start with exposure on alternate career paths, increased coverage by SISI and other groups by setting up Entrepreneurship Development Cells in colleges that would any case increase the odds of generating the next Dhirubai Ambani or the next big conglomerate where it belongs – right here among the people.
Speaking of explicit ways to develop and encourage these “entrepreneurship miracles of the society” , we should learn from the best ,just as we would in any other industry . History has shown the greatest product and research based companies being carved out garages and even from not highly educated groups of students worldwide. Other such statistics suggest to us that even though an average Indian student may have accumulated more so called “knowledge “ - their American counterparts have shown to be more street smart , ready to take risks and innovative in applying their inherent skills to empowering themselves in a knowledge based society. This is where our system in India has lost its direction , and thus making them neither capable job seekers ,nor potential job creators. And like I mentioned before , 95% of the companies that your institution eyes for the next boom of recruitment –would not bother about helping institutions generate job creators excepting a scarce few . After all , it is only the pure number games when it comes to salaries and human resources statistics that allows and provokes firms to aggressively recent years with startling number of campus and off campus recruitments . Why take it to the educational system , when infact most B-school graduates themselves are hunted to run the ‘operations’ game . While control carefully tucked away under the grips of the proprietors, it has become easier for companies to find more employees who would rather do first ,and ask assess the impact on their lives and goals later . Why let an able , talented ,but little short on self confidence candidate run his own shop, doing his own work when he could be ‘employed’ and thus restricted from making probably n-times the salary on his own doing the very same work . This makes extremely good sense in the view of the employers with sadly very less thought given by the students in retrospect .
While most of us can do little about the above said , where we can make a difference is making amends and prepare to “educating for the real world“ rather than face the consequences of context-free teaching . If it means throwing away age barriers for attending higher education , or allowing students to choose their subjects , or complete all his annual exams in flash of a week . Perhaps someday we will realize why we must not restrict the innovative with conventional sterotypes in education . This has to be one of the reasons why students from American Universities tend to develop and spring up innovations on a more larger and faster frequency that their counterparts in India . The difference being that it takes students thousands of miles and dollars to realise that they ought to be putting to use what they have learnt ,and this comes from two things – peer pressure and support .Peer Pressure and Globalisation
The evolution of the reptile has a funny resemblance to the Indian ecosystem of educational institutions . Both acknowledged the need for change only for subsequent survival . And those that did not change , simply did not survive . This analogy brings to the table another reason why thoughts of building ‘job creators’ rather than ‘job seekers’ is coming at a time when globalisation is starting to embed its effects slowly yet distinctly . And what does globalisation bring with it . The Europeans know it , the Americans are starting to see it ,and rural India should as well before it is too late . The word is competition . And it is only when your peers sense an urgency to outperform , to improvise and to survive - that innovation is at its best . At the same time , this could spell opportunity for those who see the hints early . Those who move fast , will no doubt be able to capture huge regions of personal and material satisfaction unlike the assets joining the bandwagon would do . This could no better be manifested than through the dot com bust . It was only then they realized that by the time you join a bandwagon , it is already too late. Why the emphasis on globalisation is emphasized , is because students can now extend that very relation between what Indian companies do to outbid MNC’s with the very possibility that a group of student themselves could fill the vacuum needed to run and capture the markets at a more domestic level . Fortunately today ,we are seeing a change in acceptance of professions apart from an engineer ,a doctor and so on . Newer opportunities have always existed , and they are now being utililsed by ambitious students who believe in themselves and are willing to learn. But the true test, is by overcoming the same issues when it comes to venturing on your own ,and then true satisfaction and success will follow . All this needs groups of students who are not restricted in their dreams , who learn from the challenge conventional work in huge corporations offer ,and who prepare themselves and network the right ways to ease the flow of starting up on their own .
Internal and External Support
Help may come in many ways , from talking to your school’s oldest attendant on how the school was formed ,to interacting to network with alumni , other entrepreneurs and potential one all the same . Internal support could be in the form of setting up an EDC or Entrepreneurship Development Cell in affiliation with the university or External support via independent entities ,Venture Capitalists, etc .
Firstly a few terms that you need to be familiar with as well as a statistical information from Table1:What is a Technology Business Incubator  ?
A Technology business incubator nurtures the development of technology based and knowledge driven companies helping them to survive and grow during the start up period (2-3 years) by providing an integrated package of work space, shared office services, access to specialized equipment and value added services like management assistance, business planning, access to finance, technical assistance and networking support.
What is Venture Capital  ?
Venture capital is money provided by professionals who invest alongside management in young, rapidly growing companies that have the potential to develop into significant economic contributors and is an important source of equity for start-up companies.
|Year : # of VC firms |
Before 1994 : 11
1998 : 18
2005 : More than 100
|Table1 [1 ] |
Phase I – Formation of Technology Development and Information Company of India (TDICI) in 1988 – formed by ICICI and UTI
Phase II – Entry of Foreign Venture Capital funds between 1995 and 1999
Phase III – Emergence of successful India-centric VC firms
1. The National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB ). Established in 1982 by the Government of India under the aegis of Department of Science & Technology, is an institutional mechanism to help promote knowledge based and technology driven enterprises. ( More at http://dst.gov.in/scientific
- Entrepreneurship Awareness Camp (EAC)
- Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP)
- Faculty Development Programme (FDP)
- Open Learning Programme in Entrepreneurship (OLPE)
- Skill Development Through Science & Technology (STST)
- Technology Based EDP (TEDP)
- Entrepreneurship Development Cell (EDC)
- Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development (STED) Project
- Science & Technology Entrepreneurs Park (STEP)
- Technology Business Incubator (TBI)
- Women Scientist Program ……………. and so on .
The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDI), an autonomous body and not-for-profit institution, set up in 1983, is sponsored by apex financial institutions, namely the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI), the Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI), the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) and State Bank of India (SBI).
More info at (http://www.ediindia.org ) Interesting programmes include :
- National Summer Camp on Entrepreneurial Stimulation for Children.( Every year usually in April – May 05)
- Open Learning Diploma In Business Entrepreneurship (Through Correspondence & Personal Counselling)
- For a list of Indian Business Incubators ,check out http://www.smallbusinessnotes
- For a list of Incubators and tech parks ,EDC cells ,check : http://www.ciieindia.org
- For a list of Venture Capitalist in India ,check : http://www.nasscom.org/vc_list
- For Incubators in cities across India and the world ,check http://www.incubatorsnetwork
It will take more than a little courage for educational institutions to acknowledge and assess their stance in this scenario ,and to encourage their own students to take the plunge . Life is hard work , and entrepreneurship is not an option for those who doubt their own ability to “learn” but those who can try anything twice ,who can compress the work of a lifetime in a few years ,and to dare to keep on learning . So I offer my wishes, and repeat with renewed conviction – the words of a crazy young lad when he said – “ I never let my school interfere with my education.”
- Table 1 from "Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Environment in India Independent Study ",By Kumar Gounder OHSU/OGI Fall 2005 With Professor Jack Raiton
- Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, http://www.ediindia.org
- National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board , http://dst.gov.in/scientific
- IndiaInfoline Glossary , http://www.indiainfoline.com
About the Author
This author gratuated as a student of Information technology from Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering ( SVCE ), Sriperumbudur in 2006. He is an active Technologist and Reviewer of various applications and also blogs at Bosky Says. His interests include working with web based platforms like AJAX , actionscript and other end user oriented innovations , and currently works with TutorVista . He can be reached at email@example.com
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