We’ve taken a look back at our Student Entrepreneurs Question Time (SEQT) events at the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat party conferences to look at the questions it raised and the solutions put forward.
This autumn NACUE partnered with Santander to host three panel debates that gave students the opportunity to grill politicians and enterprise experts on the issues that mattered to them. Student Entrepreneurs Question Time (SEQT) ran alongside the three main political party conferences in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. Connecting students with politicians and enterprise experts, the panel debates covered entrepreneurship, enterprise education and the challenges facing young people entering the world of work today.
The consensus among the politicians and enterprise experts was that technology is constantly creating greater opportunities for young entrepreneurs - “there has never been a better time to start a business” said Chris Sharkey, Santander's Head of Education. However, they warned the student audience that to succeed they must be prepared to fail. They also agreed that there needs to be a shift in the way that the nation views failure and that this should be taught at school.
According to our post event surveys, the student audience were of a similar opinion. Besides the usual demand for financial support, advice and mentoring, some of the survey respondents said they wanted the public’s perception of entrepreneurship to change. This included improving the negative perception of failure, raising awareness of entrepreneurial development and presenting entrepreneurship as less of an elitist pursuit.
The panelists also discussed the need for more practical support such as mentoring schemes, introducing finance and contract law as part of the GCSE curriculum and using vacant office spaces for startup businesses. The findings of the student survey showed that access to finance (27%) is an important area in which young entrepreneurs need support. However, the results suggest that advice and mentoring (38%) is the most important form of support for young entrepreneurs. This is closely linked to the demands of 22% of survey respondents, who want more information about how to set up a business. On top of this practical and financial support, infrastructure in the form of access to accelerator/incubator centres was also listed.
It was clear from students at all three conferences that they were aware of some of the opportunities available to them but they felt that more could be done by government and universities. We asked students about how they felt the events had changed their feelings about entrepreneurship. We found that 75% of survey respondents felt their confidence in enterprise success was higher or much higher since attending and 74% believed SEQT increased their desire to work in enterprise.
These results suggest that those involved in entrepreneurship are now more confident that they can succeed since attending the events. On the other hand, respondents had little confidence in government support for entrepreneurial business, with 26% stating that their confidence is low or very low. In fact 81% of survey respondents do not feel represented by decision makers at all. In spite of this, the events were still successful in increasing the students’ understanding of how political decision makers can help entrepreneurial businesses (41%). Better still, 80% of survey respondents stated that their understanding of how student enterprise societies can help entrepreneurial ambitions was higher or much higher after the SEQT.
Peter Bailey, 23, is a young entrepreneur (Founder of Fail Forward and the South Africa Challenge) and attendee at our Conservative SEQT. He wanted to hear about the support for startups, how it's being delivered and the government’s view towards failure.
Take a look at his summary of the event:
Julieta Ose, 19, young entrepreneur (Founder of OxyOse) and attendee at our Conservative SEQT in Birmingham, wanted to find out what entrepreneurs are going to do to encourage entrepreneurship.
Check out her round-up:
Panellists were also on board! Andrew Clarke, Deputy Business Editor of the Times was the chair at our Conservative SEQT. He highlighted the amount of billion pound businesses being created on university campuses, and called for more to be done to help the next generation of global leaders.
Give it a watch:
Sherry Coutu, established entrepreneur and known angel investor was on the panel at our Conservative SEQT. She called for more students to think beyond traditional careers.
Take a look the other advice she gave:
Our CEO, Johnny Luk, was a panellist at all three party conferences. He explains how NACUE is all about helping to create an entrepreneurial generation. He summarises the importance and purpose of running our Student Entrepreneurs Question Time.
Take a look:
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