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Survey shows work needed to raise New Zealand students’ entrepreneurial aspirations

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25 November 2021

The local chapter of the Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students’ survey (GUESSS) shows that New Zealand students are less entrepreneurially inclined than their global peers. University of Auckland staff say the results are concerning as an entrepreneurial culture is vital to lift New Zealand’s productivity and standard of living.

GUESSS is a biennial international survey of university students’ entrepreneurial intentions and activities. The ninth wave collected data during 2020-2021, with more than 267,000 responses from university students across 58 countries. In 2020, New Zealand participated for the second time, with 1,899 responses collected exclusively from the University of Auckland.

According to the survey, only 7% of University of Auckland students prefer to start their careers as entrepreneurs, a figure substantially lower than the global average of 21.2%. Many other indicators of entrepreneurial preparedness, including having taken an entrepreneurship course, are well behind global benchmarks.

Professor of Entrepreneurship Rod McNaughton, who oversaw the New Zealand GUESSS, says the results are cause for concern. “New Zealand needs to produce novel and innovative products and services to thrive. To facilitate this, we need highly skilled founders and employees with entrepreneurial mindsets and skills. Unfortunately, GUESSS shows our students are not as entrepreneurially minded as students in other parts of the world.”

McNaughton says this has implications for New Zealand’s future, pointing to the recent United Nations report Exploring Youth Entrepreneurship that argues youth entrepreneurship is critical to prosperity and achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

There is a bright spot in the findings. GUESSS shows that University of Auckland students who have taken entrepreneurship courses are more likely to aspire to be entrepreneurs. They also assess the University’s entrepreneurship environment more positively and rate the learning outcomes of their entrepreneurship courses more highly than the global average.

Director of the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Darsel Keane says, “This tells me many students come to university with minds closed to an entrepreneurial career, but once they participate, they see its relevance. The job market is not static, and many existing jobs won’t be here in the future. We need to train graduates who can invent new jobs.”

While initial interest in founding a company is low, the proportion of students wanting to be self-employed five years after graduating leaps to 24.4%. A University of Auckland alumni survey backs this up, showing that since 1940, 26% of alumni have founded companies. LinkedIn data shows that University of Auckland has the most founders among its alumni of any New Zealand university.

Keane says that the GUESSS results validate CIE’s strategy of introducing University of Auckland students to entrepreneurship through both extra-curricular and curricular opportunities. “We offer a wealth of opportunities for students interested in developing their entrepreneurial skills or starting a venture, including inspirational seminars, business planning competitions, programmes and advice.” But she says there is much more to do. “We want to work with others to create an entrepreneurial culture, especially career advisors and teachers, so students come to University already aware of the benefits and possibilities of an entrepreneurial career.”

Read the full report

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

social media

25 November 2021

The local chapter of the Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students’ survey (GUESSS) shows that New Zealand students are less entrepreneurially inclined than their global peers. University of Auckland staff say the results are concerning as an entrepreneurial culture is vital to lift New Zealand’s productivity and standard of living.

GUESSS is a biennial international survey of university students’ entrepreneurial intentions and activities. The ninth wave collected data during 2020-2021, with more than 267,000 responses from university students across 58 countries. In 2020, New Zealand participated for the second time, with 1,899 responses collected exclusively from the University of Auckland.

According to the survey, only 7% of University of Auckland students prefer to start their careers as entrepreneurs, a figure substantially lower than the global average of 21.2%. Many other indicators of entrepreneurial preparedness, including having taken an entrepreneurship course, are well behind global benchmarks.

Professor of Entrepreneurship Rod McNaughton, who oversaw the New Zealand GUESSS, says the results are cause for concern. “New Zealand needs to produce novel and innovative products and services to thrive. To facilitate this, we need highly skilled founders and employees with entrepreneurial mindsets and skills. Unfortunately, GUESSS shows our students are not as entrepreneurially minded as students in other parts of the world.”

McNaughton says this has implications for New Zealand’s future, pointing to the recent United Nations report Exploring Youth Entrepreneurship that argues youth entrepreneurship is critical to prosperity and achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

There is a bright spot in the findings. GUESSS shows that University of Auckland students who have taken entrepreneurship courses are more likely to aspire to be entrepreneurs. They also assess the University’s entrepreneurship environment more positively and rate the learning outcomes of their entrepreneurship courses more highly than the global average.

Director of the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Darsel Keane says, “This tells me many students come to university with minds closed to an entrepreneurial career, but once they participate, they see its relevance. The job market is not static, and many existing jobs won’t be here in the future. We need to train graduates who can invent new jobs.”

While initial interest in founding a company is low, the proportion of students wanting to be self-employed five years after graduating leaps to 24.4%. A University of Auckland alumni survey backs this up, showing that since 1940, 26% of alumni have founded companies. LinkedIn data shows that University of Auckland has the most founders among its alumni of any New Zealand university.

Keane says that the GUESSS results validate CIE’s strategy of introducing University of Auckland students to entrepreneurship through both extra-curricular and curricular opportunities. “We offer a wealth of opportunities for students interested in developing their entrepreneurial skills or starting a venture, including inspirational seminars, business planning competitions, programmes and advice.” But she says there is much more to do. “We want to work with others to create an entrepreneurial culture, especially career advisors and teachers, so students come to University already aware of the benefits and possibilities of an entrepreneurial career.”

Read the full report


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