An empirical investigation into the impact of enterprise education on young people

Athayde, Rosemary and Hart, Mark (2008) An empirical investigation into the impact of enterprise education on young people. In: The 3rd European Conference on Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ECEI) 2008; 15-16 Sep 2008, University of Winchester, U.K.. ISBN 9781906638153


The paper makes an empirical contribution to knowledge about the impact of enterprise education in secondary schools, and contributes to the debate on methodological practices in the evaluation of enterprise programmes. The case is made for greater use of longitudinal studies and the contribution that can be made by multivariate techniques. The current Labour leadership in the UK continues to be committed to fostering an enterprise culture through a range of initiatives, most importantly through its enterprise education strategy in schools. Evidence from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) for the UK has consistently pointed towards an association between participation (both voluntary and compulsory) enterprise training at school and college and early stage entrepreneurial activity. While this paper will present data on this association, the evidence base for most of these initiatives, however, is insubstantial, and the inadequacy of enterprise policy evaluations demonstrated by researchers. The aim of this research was to show how the development of an instrument to measure attitudes towards enterprise can contribute to the evidence and debate focused on enterprise education in schools. The research involved a longitudinal study of a year long Young Enterprise Company Programme in secondary schools in London. Findings showed that participation in an enterprise programme can influence young peoples’ enterprise potential, though type of school, parental occupation and gender were also associated. Pupils in the study were approaching the turbulent transition period from education to employment and need to make informed career decisions, and therefore enterprise programmes need to be sensitive to the dangers of raising unrealistic expectations in young people.

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