Future UK business leaders feel let down by formal education and lack key skills, EY reveals

23 May 2013

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Future UK business leaders feel let down by a formal education which fails to equip them with key skills required to set up a company, an EY survey has revealed.

The survey of young UK start up entrepreneurs, found 59% claimed to be let down by a formal education that they rated as either ‘poor’ or ‘extremely poor’ preparation for launching a new business.

 The survey of 39 award winning entrepreneurs, aged between 20 and 35, found the main skills they are lacking to build a successful business are finance and raising funding (38%) legal and tax assistance (23%) pitching and sales (21%) and managing suppliers (15%).

The respondents have been identified as the future business leaders in social enterprises by independent judges as part of the Striding Out ‘Future 50’ award programme, for which EY is a delivery partner.

The survey also revealed young entrepreneurs’ biggest influence in their decision to set up a business is a family member, closely followed by other business people they know.

EY - which supports the development of core entrepreneurship skills and connects business mentors with social enterprises through its Accelerate Network – says more must be done to provide practical skills for younger people earlier on in their lives, and has called for more business mentors to come forward to plug the demand among start ups. The respondents said the qualities they most valued among mentors is experience, particularly in their sector (64%), and the ability to give constructive criticism (23%).

Martin Cook UK & Ireland Commercial Managing Partner said:

“It has been widely acknowledged that entrepreneurs represent the most important route to securing growth, innovation and jobs in the economy. Though there are some good schemes in schools and universities, more must be done to provide practical business skills to ensure young people are equipped with the ability to translate academic experience and success into entrepreneurial action.

“Whilst it is encouraging that so many young people are inspired by family members to start their own business, not all young people have access to this support. The private sector must increasingly provide role models and mentors to fill the gaps identified. Those who work with young entrepreneurs inspire them and are equally inspired by the breadth of innovation and talent. Mentorship is crucial to realise the potential of companies and achieve sustainability and scale.”