Innovation and startups are set to be the future of the Australian, and possibly even global, employment landscape.
However, educational institutions place a greater emphasis on students and graduates obtaining employment in established companies in favour of startups.
With reports stating that the concept of automation will see five million Aussie jobs gone in the next 10 to 15 year, Australians should be thinking about their current skill set and the changing nature of the industry they are in to ensure ongoing employment..
The alliance between industry, including startups and educators, has never been more important.
Australia needs to maintain and advance upon our global ranking of 7th in the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Index.
Despite this seemingly high ranking, Australia still has a relatively low rate of startup formation for a developed nation.
Education providers need to be taking this into account in not only the types of courses they offer, but also the components taught in existing courses, including more emphasis on startups.
Greater emphasis on startups in courses
Universities usually encourage their graduates to find employment at large, multi-national companies, as these are traditionally seen as employers of choice
However, there should be a push for graduates to think about joining startups and/or starting their own business from early on, ideally when they are still students and generally don’t bare financial and family responsibilities .
While financial limitations will hamper young students’ ability to start their own businesses, it should be ingrained into them that the goal is attainable, even if at a time in the future.
This can be taught in courses and experienced by partnering with the University’s local startup ecosystem; making students feel that they are equipped to commence a business of their own.
Teaching a diverse skill set of entrepreneurial skills, as well as promoting an entrepreneurial mindset,will provide immense benefits for those looking at launching their own startup and putting their ideas into action.
The right working spaces
There is a growing number of co-working spaces for entrepreneurs and small businesses, but not many are aligned with universities, nor designed with students in mind.
Co-working spaces are becoming more niche. For instance, our Outcome-Hub in Melbourne is a co-working space designed specifically for international graduates to start their own businesses in Australia, rather than in their home country.
Universities are places where this type of co-working should commence. Regular ‘libraries’ are suited to study and research but a greater emphasis needs to be placed on the concept of co-working and the development of business at educational institutions.
Universities should create and promote dedicated spaces open to students at all levels and from all faculties to foster an entrepreneurial environment. This could have dedicated mentors available to allow for greater discussion and implementation of ideas between students.
Interns at startups
Internship opportunities at startups should be pushed so that students can see first-hand how new startup business operate.
Instead, Universities generally encourage their students to take intern roles, as part of courses, at established, long-standing companies where they become a small cog in a very large machine
While this type of experience is also important, students should be given the chance to apply their skills and knowledge in startups where, typically, they are given a greater range of roles and responsibilities.
Interns at startups can also make a greater impact on the business, especially in its infancy. Being resource poor, student interns are encouraged to do more, and think outside the box, something the Universities say they teach, but rarely implement outside the classroom. The experience in startups for interns is real, rather than observational as it often is at major firms.
If we agree that innovation and startups are set to be the future of the Australian employment, Universities need to incorporate entrepreneurial thinking and experience into their courses. After all, grass level learnings are always a better way to ingrain important concepts in people’s minds.