I attend numerous meetings where the future of work and the workforce are discussed. It’s no secret we have a shortage of skilled workers in Kentucky and that our colleges offer multiple career education programs.
One thing I’m not hearing as much about is the future of entrepreneurship. There are, however, a multitude of studies about it, mainly focusing on Millenials and Generation Z. This interests me because these are our current and prospective students.
Before we get too focused on the younger generations, though, we can’t forget the Boomers. An article in Entrepreneur magazine said most new businesses are being started by people who are 55-65. This shouldn’t be a surprise because Boomers have more money to invest and more business experience.
February 17-24 is National Entrepreneurship Week. So, what are we doing to help entrepreneurs of all ages? Recently, a number of our college presidents attended a professional development workshop offered by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission. The focus was on how to apply entrepreneurial methods to community college leadership.
At the conclusion of the workshop, presidents signed the NACCE Presidents for Entrepreneurship Pledge (PFEP). Through the PFEP, the presidents committed to advance entrepreneurship in their communities and create an entrepreneurial culture on their campus with multiple access points to support local startups and small businesses.
Several of our colleges also have business incubators on campus, which supply small business owners with workspace and support. This is not a new idea. Ashland Community and Technical College (ACTC) has been doing this since 2004 as part of the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet’s Kentucky Innovation Network (KIN). One of the main goals was to help change the community culture to include entrepreneurism as an economic development tool.
Through the KIN at ACTC Dare to Dream business idea pitch contests have involved more than 300 high school students, who will compete for $30,000 this year. This competition began in 2015, which led to more student participation in the Lt Governor’s Entrepreneurial Challenge and Idea State U.
This is just one example of what’s being done at our colleges. Many have similar success stories. So, as we contemplate the best ways to educate students to help businesses all across the state, we also have our eyes on other aspects of job creation and economic development.
Here’s to all those brave men and women who are willing to step out of their comfort zones and start businesses! We’re here to help.