The times are changing. The workforce that we all entered is now different to what our students are about to enter. The craziest part is that it is that this is only the beginning. There will be more and more changes as the world enters the gig economy. I am here to tell you, that as teachers, there are proactive steps that we can take before it is too late. Schools need to start teaching entrepreneurship and innovation, and teachers need to lead the charge.
Gig economy; What is a ‘gig’?
Before we start, let’s look over what indeed the gig economy is. Otherwise known as a freelance economy, the ‘gig economy’ refers to the growth in which companies are hiring self-employed workers to complete tasks.
According to Investopedia, freelancers “may find jobs through classified ads or through temporary staffing agencies. But the internet has created the current boom in freelance work, in fields as varied as commercial design, hotel management (through Airbnb) and taxi driving (through ridesharing apps like Lyft and Uber)”.
Think about it. If someone wanted to become a taxi driver, they would need to either spend the massive investment in purchasing a taxi licence or work for someone as an employee. Now, you can drive for Uber or Lyft and all you need is a smart-phone and a decent car.
The new wave of flexible employment opportunities also comes from the employers’ side too. Instead of employing design teams and marketing teams, many larger companies are simply freelancing their jobs to different companies, saving them on the added costs of employing full-time staff.
The importance of entrepreneurship in the gig economy
This changing workforce is a sign of things to come. With more and more jobs becoming automated, the future of the workforce is incredibly fluid. Hell, jobs my students want to do may not even exist soon.
For example, I recently had a ninth grader who was interested in radiology and wanted to see it as a career path. Which, is awesome, I’m not even sure I knew what a radiologist was when I was in ninth grade. However, that ninth-grader won’t graduate high school for another three years. Then they will need to study at university for several years in order to become a radiologist. It may take up to ten years for them to be fully qualified.
Am I sure that a radiologist will be a career in ten or so years? Not really, no. If a finding came out next month about some ground-breaking technology that fully replaced a radiologist’s service, I wouldn’t be surprised.
This is just one example of ways in which jobs are no-longer future-proof.
In order to thrive in a workforce where you have to go out and find employers and contracts, being entrepreneurial is a must. Being an entrepreneur is about seeking problems, and discovering solutions. This is what is needed in a new economy.
Why teaching entrepreneurship in schools is a must
The main problem with this freelance economy is that young adults are having to learn these skills on the fly. Traditional schooling sets them up to fail in the changing workforce.
Consider how most schools operate. First, you learn a lot of content. You write it down, repeat it, and repeat it again. Then, at the end of the semester, you sit a test to see how well you remembered it.
The whole system is focussing on being a good follower. Which, when you transfer it to the workforce, being a good employee. Why are we teaching our students to be employees when the majority of the workforce is expected to be freelance within a decade?
As schools and educators, we need to change the way we teach our students and how we set them up for their futures in the workforce. The current system is suited to a world that is quickly disappearing.
The place of entrepreneurship in teacher education
While, as teachers, we can sit and wait for a change from school boards and governments, the longer we wait, the more our system is failing our students.
Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty being done to encourage innovation in schools. However, I don’t have to tell you that change in schools can take time.
Teaching entrepreneurship skills to students has to be championed by teachers like you until schools finally decide. This doesn’t mean you have to re-invent the wheel. There are plenty of ways in which you can alter lessons in order to bring out problem solving and outside-the-box thinking.
Maybe you alter an assessment to make it project-based? Perhaps you introduce a genius hour (shown below)? Or, perhaps you just reverse the order of the lessons to give students problems to solve, then help them find solutions, rather than have them memorise content.
Teacher side hustles; is becoming an edupreneur a solution?
The biggest issue in encouraging teachers to teach the soft skills for the modern workforce is plain to see. As educators, most of us have secure ongoing positions. Furthermore, for now, teaching is a safe career as far as job automation goes. So, many teachers don’t have the skills set for a gig economy.
How can we be expected to teach to the gig economy, when we don’t know what it is to be involved in it?
However, this is slowly changing. Teachers actually make great entrepreneurs. There are more and more teachers starting their side-hustles. The benefits are profound. Not only are these teachers diversifying their income, they are also learning these new-age skills.
Are you one of these teachers? I know that so many teachers have started selling teaching resources online, which has been an incredible first step.
If not, what is stopping you?
If you are interested in starting a side hustle, make sure you check out my resource guide, which has all the tools that I use.