The EY G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer 2013: Canada

Education and training

Pillar ranking: 9

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Entrepreneurial education needs to extend beyond the classroom.

Canada has strengths and weakness in its education and training for entrepreneurs. The country scores highly on metrics such as public spending on education, as well as on the teaching of entrepreneurial skills in schools and universities. Levels of enrollment for secondary and tertiary education are also unusually high.

EY - 44% of entrepreneurs surveyed from Canada have seen improvements in access to entrepreneurial programs within tertiary education

In relation to entrepreneurs, the Government is now attempting to build on successes such as the fact that 98% of higher education institutions now offer at least one course in entrepreneurship, according to Industry Canada.1 This is being felt on the ground: 44% of local entrepreneurs cited improvements in this area, while 37% cited improvements in delivering dedicated entrepreneurship chairs in universities and business schools.

Nevertheless, too few education and training-related efforts focus specifically on the needs of entrepreneurs. Headline-grabbing initiatives include the C$300m Canada Job Grant, which aims to offer grants for skills training through employers — though a C$60m funding award to existing incubators and accelerators’ services to entrepreneurs is much more encouraging.

But more work is needed, says Enovec’s Scott Walton, even on basic skills, such as how entrepreneurs should deal with investors. “I don’t think a lot of entrepreneurs know how to structure their pitch, so there is definitely a need for some education there,” he says. “For start-up businesses, we definitely need to do a lot more on the education side — it’s simple things like, ‘here is a guideline for what you need to do and here are some people that you can go and talk to that have already done this.’”

EY - Proportion of entrepreneurs surveyed citing improvement in education and training programs over the past three years

1. C Parsley and M Weerasinghe, The Teaching and Practice of Entrepreneurship within Canadian Higher Education Institutions (Industry Canada, 2010).