Young Australians are lagging behind their US counterparts in entrepreneurship activity with a lack of enterprise education at school an important contributor to the poor performance.
Data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), which annually conducts over 200,000 interviews across more than 70 economies worldwide, found 8.7 per cent of Australians aged 18-24 were involved in setting up or owning a new business. This compared to 13.5 per cent of US citizens of the same age.
Associate Professor Paul Steffens from QUT's Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research, who heads up the GEM in Australia, said the data provided "compelling evidence that enterprise education at school matters - and it matters a lot".
"Our rates of entrepreneurship are almost identical to leading nations such as the US across all age groups except for our young people aged 18-24 who are lagging behind by about 40 per cent," he said.
"But enterprise education dramatically increased the chances that an 18-24-year-old Australians will become entrepreneurs.
"An impressive 18 per cent of this age group who received enterprise education at school went on to become entrepreneurs, compared with only 8 per cent for those that didn't. For the 25-34 year old age group, enterprise education also lifted entrepreneurship rates from 15 per cent to 25 per cent."
Professor Steffens, who recently returned from the G20 Young Entrepreneurs' Alliance (YEA) summit in Istanbul, said there was a growing global push to foster entrepreneurship among young people in light of shifting economic trends.
"Global leaders increasingly recognise that new businesses are a key driver of new jobs, with OECD data showing that 41 per cent of jobs created from small or medium enterprises fewer than three years old," he said.
"Very importantly, this year the G20 YEA's first priority was to Support specific educational and skills measures to encourage entrepreneurship.
"With spiralling youth unemployment in many parts of the world, this pledge follows on from G20 leaders making encouraging youth entrepreneurship a priority during their meeting in Brisbane last year.
"The latest data from the GEM shows that if we want to equip young people to take advantage of this opportunity, we need to imbed enterprise education into their schooling."
The research findings are available here: http://eprints.