Tertiary education ‘outdated’, says entrepreneur

An Australian entrepreneur and BRW Rich Lister has told My Business he believes tertiary education institutions are not keeping pace with the demands of modern business.

Jack Delosa, who founded The Entourage as a community hub for entrepreneurs and those who want to learn from them, said that to really become the ‘innovation nation’ spruiked by the government, our education standards need to be dramatically overhauled.

“Business education – and even education and entrepreneurship – was so outdated and ineffective and slowly driven that people like me tended to opt out,” Mr Delosa said of his six-month stint studying a Commerce/Law degree around a decade ago.

“We conduct consumer insight on the effectiveness of university every year – and have done so for the last six years – and we ask university graduates to rate their business degree in terms of its effectiveness in preparing them for the business world, from zero to 10. Every single year that we have done this survey, university has come out of this survey with an average score of three out of 10.”

Mr Delosa said the problem is not unique to Australia, and said the US – despite the attention given to its focus on innovation and technology – is another prime example.

“Stats out of the US right now indicate that 53 per cent of people that graduate from college are under-employed or unemployed, meaning they don’t have a job or that they’re working in one that doesn’t require them to have the degree that they just spent perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars and years and years obtaining,” he said.

“The world is changing faster than it ever has, and the universities and tertiary education [sector], by virtue of its size and its bureaucracy, hasn’t been able to keep pace with that rate of change.”

According to Mr Delosa, entrepreneurs and even existing small business operators are under-informed in areas such as sourcing capital, establishing start-up strategies, commercialising their ideas, staff management and recruitment as well as developing effective marketing and sales strategies.

“There’s all of these practical skills that absolutely can be taught: it’s no different to learning accounting or learning marketing. They are all practical skills, they are just not adequately addressed in traditional universities,” he said.

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