GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Victor Zengyu
Title of Paper:
Unlock Entrepreneurship Through Education - the Case of UAE
Paper Proposal Text :
The combined effects of the global economic slowdown as well as low oil prices have evidently affected the economies of the gulf region. At this critical juncture, people across the region have been at the forefront of the economic and social instability taking place over the past two years. With one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world as a result of institutional rigidities, failing employability from the education sector, and a demographic “youth bulge” that has increased supply pressures on the education systems, gulf economies are looking to move beyond its concurrent turbulences. Organizations and entrepreneurs within the MENA region are aiming to transform themselves into competitive and responsible participants in the global marketplace. This signals a shift of developmental focus for both the governments and the organizations to prioritize innovation by harnessing human capital as the true driver for sustainable growth and change. Many believe that entrepreneurship could be the “solution” to overcome such challenges characterized as an intersection of political, socio-cultural and economic conundrum.
Entrepreneurship is one of the cornerstones of a competitive, modern, knowledge based economy, and the lifeblood of thriving local communities. There is clearly a need to ensure that entrepreneurship becomes a significant driver of future economic growth in the gulf nation, and that the many benefits associated with entrepreneurship contribute to the wellbeing of the people of the UAE across the seven emirates. To do so, Entrepreneurship education is critical for developing entrepreneurial skills, attitudes and behaviors that are the basis for economic growth. Access and exposure to entrepreneurship within educational systems at all levels are important as they are the outreach to target audiences outside of traditional educational systems. Enhancing levels of innovation and entrepreneurship to grow a more competitive economy is the focus of much UAE government effort (e.g., UAE 2021 vision; Abu Dhabi 2030 vision). Universities, aware of the importance of developing entrepreneurial potential, are began to focus on equipping students with the skills and understanding to contribute to business creation and to innovation within organizations they join, through the provision of transferable skills.
Such ambition hasn’t met without challenges, In the case of UAE; the availability of entrepreneurship education to date has typically depended on the enthusiasm of individual teachers, and the support networks they themselves have developed. Growing the availability of entrepreneurship education means helping teaching professionals across educational institutions (including universities) in the UAE to develop the support systems they need, for example, to share experiences, provide culturally relevant entrepreneurship curriculum/pedagogical development training, and to give access to good practices and high quality teaching materials. It also means helping educators or trainers at all levels to develop wide ranging networks which link them into the resources available in the public as well as business community.

Entrepreneurship education can be a societal change agent, a great enabler in all sectors. Not everyone needs to become an entrepreneur or intrapreneur to benefit from entrepreneurship education, however all members of society (whether public or private, academia, and non-profit sectors) need to be more entrepreneurial to facilitate the development of effective ecosystems that encourage and support entrepreneurship. We need to create the types of environments that are conducive to entrepreneurial ways of thinking and behaving. In recent years, public education in the UAE has undergone a remarkable transformation. Local, Emirate level, and Federal reforms have been enacted to improve student academic performance and provide parents more educational choices. Many of these reforms have been aimed at encouraging creativity, leadership and entrepreneurship, and deploy genuinely new approaches to learning. Both practitioners and scholars are well aware that educational policy establishes the foundation to nurture entrepreneurship, but the actual landscape on the ground within which educational innovators must maneuver has received little systematic and progressive attention.

How can effective policy influence entrepreneurship in education? How should wider measures be developed to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and application of entrepreneurship within the education community? And how can we develop teacher trainers/educators so that they can better support learning development in relation to entrepreneurship for UAE citizens? With these questions in mind, we conducted a “UAE Educational Entrepreneurship Policy Design Thinking Workshop” in late autumn 2012 at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi campus. The focus group consisted of 20 participants from various organizations from UAE’s educational sector (including representatives of Federal/Emirate level government agencies), as well as education providers in the UAE both private and public.

Our objective for the focus group meeting was to exchange knowledge and experience on education for entrepreneurship, employing design thinking principle, the expert group aimed to:
1. Highlight and raise awareness of the importance of entrepreneurship education in spurring economic growth and achieving the UAE 2021 and Abu Dhabi 2030 vision.
2. Consolidate existing knowledge and good practices in entrepreneurship education to enable the development of innovative new tools, culturally relevant approaches and delivery methods for UAE educational providers.
3. Provide recommendations and proposal to governments, academia, the private sector and other actors across the UAE on the development, implementation and delivery of effective education programs for entrepreneurship with the involvement of key stakeholders.

Such combined efforts serve as a “Call for Action” for policymakers, with the goal of raising awareness about the importance of entrepreneurship education, the role of education professionals and their involvement, and the need to address it through multi-stakeholder partnerships. While the policy proposal lays out a variety of steps that can be taken to develop and embed entrepreneurship education in formal and informal education systems, the authors and contributors encourage public and private sector leaders to take a revolutionary, not an evolutionary, approach. Entrepreneurship education is needed to build entrepreneurial human capital for the UAE society of the future. We need to encourage a more entrepreneurial culture and develop the necessary skills, attitudes and behaviors to prepare young people and others to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities; we also need more entrepreneurial institutions and societies, all of which cannot be achieved without the active participation of education entrepreneurs and innovators in the UAE.