Steve Mullen, Certified Kidpreneurs Educator, Allstarpreneurs Academy

Steve Mullen is a digital marketing specialist, with over 20 years of experience designing campaigns. Holding a first-class BA (Hons) in Media Management and esteemed for his roles as a founding member of Certified Kidpreneurs Educators and program director at Allstarpreneurs Online Academy, he instills a mindset of resilience and possibility in young entrepreneurs, embodied by his motto, ‘I can, I will.’ Steve’s work focuses on empowering the next generation with essential skills for the future, blending business fundamentals with creativity and technology. His doors are always open for those who wish to connect and collaborate on innovative discussions around young enterprise & entrepreneurship education.


Let’s begin with a hypothetical scenario: imagine a world where, overnight, nearly one-third of all jobs across various industries have vanished. This change is attributed to the advancement and integration of Artificial Intelligence, which, in turn, has led to the creation of tens of millions of new positions. These roles are characterised by their requirement for distinct skills that are not widely possessed by the current workforce.

This isn’t a sci-fi movie plot; it’s the real world, and already unfolding.

AI, automation, and machine learning have catapulted us into the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). The technology is already so pervasive and scalable that a skills gap is not just likely, it’s inevitable. This leads us to a critical question: How must our education systems adapt to prepare students for a future that’s already upon us?

The gap between what our educational institutions provide and what the future job market will continue to demand is widening at an alarming rate. The need for an answer is pressing.

Pivot or Persevere: A Crossroads for Education

In the world of entrepreneurship, the concept of ‘pivot or persevere’ is a key part of navigating unpredictable markets and often determines success or failure.

Thus, the education system as we know it has reached a crossroads that presents two viable options. One option is to pivot and actively seek out innovative methods that align with the rapidly changing landscape. The other option is to persevere with traditional approaches, continuing to prioritise rote learning and standardised testing.

Think about this decision in your own context: would you pivot or persevere?

By 2025, the World Economic Forum (2020) predicts significant changes in the workforce due to automation and the emerging division of labour between humans and machines. This shift is anticipated to disrupt approximately 85 million jobs worldwide. However, amidst these challenges, there is also potential for growth. As it’s also projected that around 97 million new job roles will emerge. The jobs created by AI suggest not only a rise in numbers but also indicate a seismic shift in the types of skills and roles that will hold value in the future workforce.

There is no straightforward answer, yet given the extensive disruption, education stakeholders around the world must ask – isn’t it time to pivot?

Soft Skills Are The Future of Work

In 2022, McKinsey & Company published an article that echoed these concerns, highlighting that the 4IR will fundamentally transform every industry. The pace of change will continue to accelerate and to survive in this rapidly evolving landscape, businesses will require a workforce equipped with specific, soft skills.

The Future of Jobs Report (2023) identified the following top ten skills of 2025. We must consider that these are all soft skills.

  1. Analytical thinking
  2. Creative thinking
  3. Resilience, flexibility and agility
  4. Motivation and self-awareness
  5. Curiosity and lifelong learning
  6. Technological literacy
  7. Dependability and attention to detail
  8. Empathy and active listening
  9. Leadership and social influence
  10. Quality control

The challenge for global education systems lies in the fact that contemporary education often lacks a strong emphasis on digital literacy, critical thinking, and adaptability (CSIS 2022). Yet, these are the skills students need to thrive in the 4IR.

Therefore, bridging this gap is not just beneficial; it’s imperative in preparing young learners for an increasingly complex world (World Economic Forum, 2023).

Cultivating Future-Ready Skills through Entrepreneurship

In K12 education, entrepreneurship combines different aspects of learning to prepare students for challenges and opportunities. It goes much further than learning how to start a business, it focuses on soft skills and cognitive abilities, such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.

These skills are taught as part of a larger narrative about navigating and shaping the modern world. The learning environment is engaging and dynamic, with hands-on projects that allow students to apply their schooling knowledge in real-life contexts. The experience reinforces their cognitive understanding and retention of knowledge.

Here are the top five soft skills students often learn from entrepreneurship education:

  1. Creativity and Innovation: Entrepreneurship education encourages thinking outside the box and coming up with innovative solutions to problems.
  2. Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking: Students learn to identify issues, analyse situations, and develop effective solutions.
  3. Resilience and Adaptability: Students develop resilience, learning to bounce back from setbacks, and adaptability, adjusting to new challenges and changing environments.
  4. Teamwork and Collaboration: Students learn how to work effectively in teams, value diverse perspectives, communicate effectively, and manage conflicts.
  5. Leadership and Management Skills: Entrepreneurship education fosters leadership skills like decision-making, motivating others, and taking responsibility.

Through entrepreneurship education, students develop a sense of self-agency and lay the foundations for a growth mindset as they turn ideas into action through project-led learning. Students grow in confidence as they understand they have the agency to become creators of their future rather than bystanders & consumers.

The Young Entrepreneurship Movement

There are too many examples of successful young entrepreneurs to cover in this article, we should though highlight:

  • Moziah Bridges, who started Mo’s Bows, a handcrafted bowtie business, at the age of nine and appeared on “Shark Tank.”
  • Alina Morse, who invented Zollipops, a healthy alternative to traditional lollipops, when she was just seven years old.
  • Mikaila Ulmer, who invented Me & the Bees, when she was just four years old. Inspired by her family’s recipe and a desire to help save the bees

Driving this wave of youthful entrepreneurship are not just individual talents but also supportive networks and organisations. Groups like the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and Junior Achievement Worldwide have been instrumental in nurturing young entrepreneurial talents. Educational institutions are also playing a critical role. For instance, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy transforms middle and high school students into real, confident entrepreneurs.

Through innovative programs such as these, students receive the training and mentorship needed to turn their ideas into fully operational businesses or social movements.

Overcoming Challenges in Educational Transformation

While the integration of entrepreneurship education in K12 curricula presents a compelling solution, it is not without its challenges. For instance, budget constraints in many schools could make the implementation of such dynamic and resource-intensive programs difficult.

There may be resistance from educators who are accustomed to traditional teaching methods and may feel unprepared or reluctant to adopt this new approach. There is also the concern of ensuring equal access, as schools in underprivileged areas might struggle more with adopting these advanced, technology-focused curricula, potentially widening the educational divide.

Furthermore, some critics argue that an overemphasis on 4IR skills might lead to a neglect of basic academic knowledge and skills, which are also crucial for holistic student development. Addressing these challenges requires a collaborative effort from entrepreneurship programs, educators, policymakers, and community stakeholders, ensuring that the shift toward a new educational paradigm is both inclusive and balanced.

Towards a Collaborative Educational Future 

In conclusion, it is evident that our education systems face a pivotal moment. The integration of entrepreneurship education into K12 curricula emerges as a promising approach to bridge the growing skills gap. This approach, focusing on vital soft skills such as creativity, problem-solving, and adaptability, aims to equip the next generation with the tools necessary to not only adapt but also shape the future.

However, the path to integrating these changes is not without its hurdles. Budget constraints, resistance to change in teaching methodologies, and the risk of educational inequality are significant challenges that must be addressed. Moreover, balancing the need for new 4IR skills with the importance of foundational academic knowledge is crucial to ensure a well-rounded educational experience.

As we navigate this transition, a collaborative effort involving educators, policymakers, and community stakeholders is essential. It is through this collective endeavour that will foster a generation of innovators, thinkers, and leaders equipped to thrive in an ever-changing world. The decision to pivot or persevere is not just about choosing a path for education reform but about shaping the future of our technologically driven global society.

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