The Role of Entrepreneurship Education in Regional Development

Marcello Tonelli_China

Qīnzhōu is a municipal region in Guangxi, and one of the few areas in China expected to experience a rapid growth over the next 5 years. It is also home of the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park, which is set to be a new platform, new engine of growth and new highlight for China-ASEAN cooperation.

During a visit at Qinzhou University Dr. Marcello Tonelli discussed higher entrepreneurship education as a fundamental component of regional economic development strategies. A comparison of cases in Italy, Australia, and China highlighted how a dialogue between university and local businesses is a key aspect in ensuring that skills development moves hand-in-hand with the needs of local entrepreneurs and society at large. Far too often, education lags behind what the economy requires and research is confined at reporting what occurs in the industry, rather than proactively informing practice with new concepts and ideas.

Participants at the meeting acknowledged that the education system can no longer be only responsive to economic and social needs. Universities around the world are facing a crisis, where the value of degrees is rapidly declining and new generations of students consider whether self-taught subjects are in fact more up-to-date, relevant, effective, and of course cheaper than what universities can offer. If we believe that universities can still play an important role in the development of an individual as well as that of an entire region, we need to think differently. Job security is no longer ‘real’, hence individuals across all industry sectors require additional − entrepreneurial − skills that can help them embrace uncertainty, think more creatively, and continually innovate themselves (i.e. awareness of an entrepreneur’s career options). The way entrepreneurship is to be taught also needs to evolve. There is no more space for courses that are rigidly structured, teaching material has to be regularly updated, and, above all, mode of delivery has to include hands-on modules.

Many thanks to Dr. Marcello Tonelli, Collaborative Researcher with ACE, for contributing this story.