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Reaching Future Business Leaders through Distance Learning*
Poverty remains the central challenge facing nations in the 21st Century and its debilitating conditions most severely affects young people who are still in the early stages of their lives. Young people under age thirty comprise up to 60% of the population and the major challenge they face is to find work that will enable them to become participating and productive citizens of their community and nation.
Clearly, however, wage employment cannot generate jobs for the numbers of young people entering the labor market each year. Governments and the private sector now recognize the benefits of young people learning entrepreneurial skills so that more can become self-employed. On a broad scale creating more employers will create more employment.
Experience in development programs has shown that to effectively engage
young people in entrepreneurial skills training, a long-term approach is
needed that involves personal development, skills training, and access to
resources. Furthermore, young entrepreneurs and small business people, in
general, are more interested in short, focused training programs instead of
long, classroom-based training.
To be attractive to young entrepreneurs, training is needed that places greater emphasis on experiential learning so that students and teachers learn business basics through practical, “hands-on” methods, as opposed to the traditional “talk and chalk”. Distance learning using the Internet and other technologies can open a new spectrum of opportunities for young entrepreneurs to pursue their studies at any place and time without the strict requirements that traditional learning requires. It also presents certain barriers such as requiring strong motivation for independent study.
As distance learning methods improve and course offerings expand, this field will be an effective way to reach young people who have the potential to become entrepreneurs. Linking several technologies realizes benefits from each. This will also actively spur their interest in the life-long process that it takes to be successful in business today. The field of distance learning for young entrepreneurs offers much promise and potential. It is a way for young people to expand their education, to continue their education outside the formal classroom environment – a strategy especially relevant to young people already in business – and it can give them access to training previously unavailable. Still, the challenges that accompany this potential must be met with creativity and resources in order for these programs to be successful.?
CEO, Young Americas Business Trust
*The ideas, thoughts, and opinions expressed are not necessarily of the OAS nor of its member states. The opinions expressed are the responsibility of the authors.
For more information on the work of the Young Americas Business Trust, visit www.ybiz.net.
The Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) develops programs that link several elements and enables countries to share experiences and expertise drawn from successful models. YABT integrates training, technology, and leadership programs, working through partnerships with a range of private and public sector organizations.
One part of this is a joint effort with the Educational Portal of the Americas and Jóvenes Empresarios of Ecuador to launch an e-learning course to train young people how to create and manage a business. YABT is also working with the World Bank Institute to offer their on-line training program on business social responsibility and with the Inter-American Development Bank to promote an on-line forum for young entrepreneurs as part of an IDB Youth research program. The YABT also organizes international videoconferences with the World Bank Global Development Learning Network, including a series currently underway on entrepreneurial education curricula development.