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Teach kids to be entrepreneurs? Nations aren't up to the task.

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(Read caption) A young entrepreneur in Columbus, Ga., advertised his product last November. A new report says that entrepreneur training in almost every country is inadequate.

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Education and training for entrepreneurs worldwide is inadequate, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Special Report: A Global Perspective on Entrepreneurship Education and Training, released today at Babson College, lead sponsor and co-founder of the GEM project.

Entrepreneurship education is one of several key factors, along with access to finance, government policies, infrastructure, and others, that influence attitudes about entrepreneurship and people's willingness to start businesses, according to GEM. Interviews with experts in 31 countries around the world found that in almost every country entrepreneurship education and training was inadequate, especially in primary and secondary schools.

In surveys with more than 100,000 individuals, GEM found that 80% of entrepreneurship education and training is provided through formal channels such as primary and secondary level schooling, and through university degree programs. This is significant because most formal training is at the primary and secondary school levels.

"Training at a young age cultivates an entrepreneurial spirit early on, but college-level training is important too, because it validates entrepreneurship as a potential career path," says report author and Babson Professor Donna Kelley, "Besides skill-building, training increases an individual's awareness of entrepreneurship and their intent to start a business, and improves perceptions about their ability to do so," says Kelley.

Sixty percent of individuals engaged in entrepreneurship training acquire it from informal sources, which GEM defines as non credit-bearing courses at a university, local business organization, or government agency, or self-study using books and Internet courses. "Access to informal programs is a good thing too, because entrepreneurs can obtain the specific skill sets they need to achieve their immediate goals," says Alicia Coduras, from IE Business School in Spain and lead author of the report.

GEM also learned that entrepreneurship training is of most benefit to individuals in wealthier countries where the entrepreneurial environment is rich in conditions that allow new businesses to thrive. "For entrepreneurship training to be productive in low-income countries, it needs to be complemented by beneficial government policies, infrastructure, and other basic requirements," says Kristie Seawright, GEM Executive Director.

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