UK SMEs urge government to provide better business skills in school

FreeAgent poll reveals that just a fifth (20%) of small business owners think the UK education system provides young people with adequate entrepreneurial skills.

Survey results

Do you think the UK education system provides young people with relevant skills required to start their own business?

Yes - 5%

No - 80%

Don't know - 15%

Which of these skills do you think would be valuable to provide young people in education, so they can start their own business?

Understanding financing - 90%

Basic understanding of economics - 74%

Management skills - 64%

IT skills - 62%

Negotiation skills - 54%

Basic legal training - 51%

Public speaking -44%

Other - 5%

All figures and stats taken from a survey of 1005 small business owners carried out online by FreeAgent between July 28th - August 28th 2019

The UK education system needs to provide students with better, more practical skills in order to stimulate the next generation of entrepreneurs, a new survey has suggested.

According to new research carried out by cloud accounting software company FreeAgent, 80% of UK small business owners think that the current education system is failing to provide students with the necessary skills needed to start their own businesses.

The poll, which surveyed more than 1000 SMEs across the country, found that just 5% of respondents believed that young people in the UK were being given the right education to enable them to begin their entrepreneurial journey and run a business. The results come as the UK’s main political parties start to reveal their election manifestos and outline their proposed changes to the education system.

When asked what practical skills would help students start a business, 90% of small business owners said that they thought “understanding finance” would be a valuable addition to the school curriculum. In addition, almost three quarters (74%) of respondents said that they would like to see school students have the opportunity to learn a basic understanding of economics.

Other popular suggestions for skills that would help students start a business included management (64%), IT (62%), negotiation skills (54%) and basic legal training (51%). Just under half (44%) of respondents also said that learning basic public speaking skills would be beneficial.

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, said: “We regularly hear about how small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy and how they need to be supported and nurtured. But it’s clear from our research that the current education system is failing to foster the entrepreneurial skills required to actually start and run a business

“The majority of small business owners we surveyed believe that students should be taught basic business skills while they progress through their education. By understanding economics, finance, law and management - as well as learning niche skills like negotiating and public speaking - young people will be better prepared to consider self-employment as a career.

“With the General Election approaching, I would like to see the major political parties pledging to expand the curriculum in order to provide young people with the skills they need to work in the 21st century economy.”

About FreeAgent

Born out of the frustration that doing the books is just too damn hard for most of us, our award-winning accounting software is loved by over 150,000 small businesses and their accountants and bookkeepers.

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