The Role of CTE in Entrepreneurship
ERIC Identifier: ED482537
Publication Date: 2003-00-00
Author: Brown, Bettina Lankard
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Entrepreneurship, or small business ownership, is an increasingly attractive option to
young people as well as adults who are striving to find careers that are exciting to them
and offer the potential for personal and financial success. In recent years, the majority
of new jobs in both professional and technical areas have been in the small business
sector (Scherrer 2002). In addition, over half of the U.S. private work force is employed
in small businesses (Ries 2000). Low-income populations, at-risk youth, and women are
especially attracted to entrepreneurial ventures as they offer an opportunity to apply
creativity, risk-taking inclinations, and complex life experience to educational and career
endeavors that have the potential to deliver them from poverty, uncertainty, and
conflicts they experience in their current environments (Saboe, Kanter, and Walsh 2002;
Stanforth and Muske 1999). For these populations, and for all students who are
motivated to be self-employed, career and technical education (CTE) can provide the
help they need to prepare for success as small business owners and operators.
This Digest reviews the literature on CTE's role in providing entrepreneurship education,
including the behaviors and skills that contribute to entrepreneurial success, curriculum
components and delivery strategies that have proven to be effective, and networking
opportunities that offer students support they need to start their own businesses.
A RATIONALE FOR PROVIDING ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION
Entrepreneurship education focuses on the start-up of new business ventures. It tends
to draw the interest of students who want the opportunity to operate on their own, make
money, and be successful. A Gallup survey of 600 high school students revealed that 7
of 10 had a desire to start their own businesses and gave "independence" as their major
reason (Saboe et al. 2002). The characteristics, traits, and abilities of entrepreneurs are
those that individuals in impoverished neighborhoods have learned, to some extent, on
the street. These skills are ones that must be nurtured through proper education and
coaching so that can be directed to responsible and enriching small business endeavors
that will benefit the individuals and the communities in which they live (ibid.).
Entrepreneurs must be self-starters, innovative, willing to try new things and take risks;
they must be able to get along well with others and be receptive to suggestions and
criticism (Nelson and Johnson 1997; Stanforth and Muske 1999). They must be able to
look at a situation, identify opportunities, gather resources, make business plans, and
persistent in reaching their goals (ibid.). CTE can help students develop these skills by
integrating entrepreneurship education with academic and technical curriculum that
stresses financial, people management, interpersonal/communication, and business
planning skills (Billett 2001).
CTE'S ROLE IN HELPING STUDENTS DEVELOP CORE ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS
Several curriculum projects have had positive results in delivering entrepreneurial
directing them to choose a business to develop and devise a business plan that would
help them start up and run the business using information available through Web
resources (Kavan and O'Hara 2003). In this process, students used the Small Business
Administration loan guidelines to develop their business plans for obtaining funding.
Stipulations of their business plans were that they must accomplish the following (ibid.,
By participating in the project, students received exposure to the resources of the Web,
developed an understanding of the various functional areas within a business and how
these functions were interdependent, enhanced their electronic communication skills,
and experienced the entrepreneurial behavioral, affective, and cognitive attitudes that
motivate individuals to succeed in small business endeavors (ibid.).
- Convince the audience that they understand the business, including critical issues
and the financial case
- Demonstrate their credibility by the thoroughness of their fact gathering
- Show that they can logically devise a business plan based upon the evidence
- Help the audience understand the implications of the venture.
Another school-based curriculum program that is designed to introduce participants to
the skills required to start and run a business is the Rural Entrepreneurship through
Action Learning (REAL) program (Hanham et al. 1999). Annually, the REAL
organization provides hands-on instruction to more than 4,000 students nationwide at
more than 400 high schools, community or technical colleges, universities, elementary
and middle schools, and community organizations (National Alliance of Business 1999).
REAL was evaluated through a demographic survey of 1,011 student participants and
pre/posttest scores from 93. Community college students showed significant gains in
communication skills, high school students in business knowledge. Community college
students had greater gains than high school students in analytical and thinking skills.
Brown (2000b) identifies three components required for entrepreneurship education:
opportunity recognition, marshaling and commitment of resources, and the creation of
an operating business organization. Participation in these components requires
students to develop skills in problem solving, decision making, teamwork, written
communication, and public speaking (Scherrer 2002). Schools must provide students
with current technology so that they can learn to create multimedia presentations,
spreadsheets, and written documents (ibid.).
Entrepreneurship education, because it is especially well suited to interdisciplinary
approaches, can be most effective when it is integrated into various courses in the
school curriculum, e.g., marketing, communication, finance (Boethel 2000). Two
programs that integrate entrepreneurship into the curricula through business education
are the Program for Acquiring Competence in Entrepreneurship (PACE), Level 2, which
engages older students in developing business plans; and Own The Place, which
teaches students career skills and provides them with first-hand business experience
For program developers who are considering the implementation of entrepreneurship
curriculum, the National Standards for Business Education, developed by the National
Business Education Association, offer guidelines for development (Scherrer 2002).
Course units could include
One commercial program that has been highlighted in the literature is FastTrac(TM), a
hands-on, noncredit entrepreneurship program which was initiated as part of the
University of Southern California's Entrepreneurship Program in 1986 and is now
available nationally through the sponsorship of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
"Today there are nine various FastTracT programs offered in both urban and rural
settings through organizations and colleges/universities to help people pursue their
entrepreneurship goals" (FastTrac(TM) Fact Sheet 2001, p. 2). Information about
FastTrac(TM) and its programs may be found at http://www.fasttrac.org.
- a description of what businesses do and how they function.
- explanations of the concepts of market share and market segmentation.
- identification of the basics of marketing;
- introduction to the concepts of supply and demand,
- demonstration of successful management and motivational techniques,
- strategies of financial planning, and
- the process to be followed to develop a business plan (ibid.).
Instructional strategies for delivering entrepreneurship education should engage
students in experiential learning and lead them to observe, interpret, analyze, make
decisions, and consider consequences (Daly 2001). Teaching strategies should
contextualize learning, provide students with opportunities to work and reflection over
an extended period of time, emphasize self-reliance and flexibility, provide diverse ways
of learning, deliver prompt feedback, and contain ongoing assessment. By engaging
students in entrepreneurship projects, teachers serve as facilitators, allowing students
to construct their own knowledge through learning, application, action, review, and
reflection (Dwerryhouse 2001).
THE ROLE OF NETWORKING
Entrepreneurship education must include access to the community and to community
leaders and businesses that care about promoting entrepreneurs in the local
community. organizations that have a history of involvement are Chambers of
Commerce, Small Business Development Centers, Women's and Minority Business
Centers, community colleges and individual consultants (FastTrac(TM) 2001). Through
such partnerships, instructors can expose students to successful small businesses,
provide opportunities for students to practice their skills, enable students to become
familiar with entrepreneurial and management tasks, and introduce students to contacts
that they can draw upon to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams (Nelson and Johnson
Community partners could be recruited to host economic forums patterned after science
fairs, hold business plan competitions, and sponsor youth entrepreneurship trade shows
in which students could showcase their ideas. They could provide personnel to serve as
guest speakers, mentors or judges; they could host field trips and provide seed capital
to help students with business start-ups. There is a motivation for community
enterprises to partner with educators to support entrepreneurship education: "With
many communities facing a widening gulf between the haves and have nots,
entrepreneurship education provides an option that can transform at-risk and
underachieving students into a generation of successful business people and
contributors to revitalized communities" (Saboe et al. 2002, p. 82).
Entrepreneurship education is of value to anyone who has an interest in being
self-employed, especially those who are from low-income and minority populations and
who have traditionally been underserved. Of significance in promoting entrepreneurship
are curriculum approaches and delivery techniques that motivate students to stay
connected to school and learn the skills required to succeed as small business owners.
Flexibility in program structure and delivery, cultural competence, and collaboration are
key components to entrepreneurship programs. School environments must nurture
students' self-development and administrators must be willing to adapt traditional modes
of operation to accommodate the program's needs (Boethel 2002).
This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S.
Department of Education under Contract No. ED-99-CO-0013. The content of this
publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of
Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations
imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. Digests may be freely reproduced.
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