David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative party conference was big on hope and optimism. It reminded me of something Barack Obama said during his 2009 inauguration speech. “Starting today we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.” This time around it’s the UK economy which needs remaking.
In an attempt to raise his audience’s aspirations and fix their gaze on the economic challenges facing Britain and respond to claims that our economy is the sick man of Europe, the Prime Minister said “we came back and turned this country into a beacon of enterprise.” Noting; “it's not the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog.”
Overcoming the challenge, confounding the sceptics, reinventing ourselves and growing the economy as the Prime Minister wants us to do, requires more than words. We need to build on these intentions with practical and detailed actions, about how we can become a beacon of enterprise.
The aspects of his speech which chime with the Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning research on enterprise and entrepreneurship education are ideas of self-esteem, confidence, training and skills, hard-work, independence, creativity, adaptability, optimism and a can-do attitude. These are the sort of skills and behaviours which an initial literature review of enterprise and entrepreneurship education suggest an enterprising nation needs to develop in its people.
If we are to compete and stay ahead of the likes of China, India and Brazil, provide skilled staff which employers need, then cutting red tape which stifles entrepreneurial activity and providing government funding as the Prime Minister suggested are both steps in the right direction.
This week the Financial Times reported that the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs are still creating jobs on a large scale, despite rising unemployment, the government could be doing even more to support enterprise and entrepreneurial education in schools, colleges and universities.