Hands up who wants to be an entrepreneur?

Enterprise education has become a bit of a hot topic in recent weeks, with the PM’s enterprise advisor, Lord Young, calling for children as young as 5 to be engaged in enterprise activity as part of the school day. Lord Young’s report, Enterprise for All, outlines a number of recommendations to improve the enterprise education of children and young people, helping to hard-wire a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship from an early age.

Whilst Lord Young recognises the importance of the three R’s in education (reading, writing and maths), he argues that a fourth R is required – relevance. “For many young people the fourth R in education is relevance – unless they see the relevance of their lessons to their future, they can switch off.”

At Telefonica, we have a strong track record in supporting young people to develop their enterprise and employability skills. Since 2010, Telefonica UK has backed over 5000 young people with great ideas, giving them funding and support to kick start Think Big projects. More recently, we’ve also worked in partnership with Young Enterprise to support thousands of secondary school students to develop their ideas and then build working digital prototypes, using online tools and software.

This week, we’re proud to announce a new partnership with Founders 4 Schools, which is designed to deepen our engagement in enterprise education, by connecting schools across the UK with inspiring entrepreneurs and company founders. The Founders 4 School website has been specially designed to make it easy (and free) for school teachers to organise an inspiring assembly event, where students get to meet and hear from local entrepreneurs and company founders. It’s an important opportunity for students to learn first-hand about the challenges and opportunities of starting and running a business.

We believe that early exposure to entrepreneurship delivered through the Founders 4 Schools platform, alongside digital skills development and funding from O2 Think Big, will create an enterprise progression pathway for young people, helping to raise aspirations and inspire more young people to turn brilliant ideas into action. We’ll also be engaging Telefonica’s own digital enterprise incubator, Wayra, to demonstrate how a great idea can become an exciting start-up business, with huge investment potential. Wayra business founders are already signed up to the Founders 4 Schools platform and will join a diverse array of entrepreneurs who are waiting to be invited to a school near you!

One leading example is Hannah Catmur, who in less than two years, progressed through both Think Big and Wayra UnLtd and has now set her sights on releasing ‘Pocket Explorers,’ an app to encourage children to enjoy the natural world. Ronan Dunne, CEO of Telefonica UK said, ‘Hannah is a shining example of how businesses should be supporting the entrepreneurial life-cycle through initiatives like Think Big and Wayra. To see an idea develop and build momentum in such a short amount of time is hugely satisfying and demonstrates what can be achieved in we invest in digital and our young people.’

Entrepreneurship is not a route for everyone, and of course, many young people will seek more traditional employment routes. However, as Lord Young points out, “enterprise means far more than just the ability to become an entrepreneur. It is an attitude and set of skills that are vital in today’s growing global economy.”

Together, we’re aiming to engage over half a million students in Founders events by the summer of 2016. To help us meet this goal, we need to spread the word and encourage schools to take part – it’s completely free and only takes a few minutes to sign up. We’re excited to be working with Founders 4 Schools to bring the opportunities of entrepreneurship to life, making enterprise more relevant and accessible to young people. Please help us spread the word and support more schools to include this exciting offer as part of their approach to enterprise education.

For more information about Founders 4 Schools visit: www.founders4schools.org.uk. To find out more about Telefonica’s new partnership with Founders 4 Schools, and to see a Founders event in action, take a look at the video below. To learn more about our commitment to enterprise visit www.thingbig.eu and www.wayra.org.