Report: An 'Entrepreneurial Workforce' Critical to America's Future Success in the Global Economy

Jun 10, 2009, 09:00 ET from Junior Achievement

Poll from Junior Achievement and Gallup Shows Overwhelming Majority of Employers and Employees Support Concept

WASHINGTON, June 10 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report from the Junior Achievement Innovation Initiative (JAII) and Gallup shows that employers (those responsible for hiring decisions) and employees alike believe that America's workforce needs to become more "entrepreneurial" in order for the country to remain competitive in the global marketplace and that K-12 classrooms are the place to start teaching entrepreneurship. This is in line with President Barack Obama's call for "entrepreneurship" to be included with "problem-solving" and "critical thinking" as 21st century skills to be incorporated into education standards and assessments.

The Gallup poll of 1,100 employers and employees shows that virtually all of those surveyed (95% of employers; 96% of employees) believe that the American workforce needs to become more entrepreneurial if America is to remain competitive (entrepreneurship was defined as "taking the initiative and assuming risk to create value for the company or business, either as an owner of your own business or in your place of work."). Nearly half of employees (46%) and employers (41%) felt the best time to learn entrepreneurship is in the K-12 grades, surpassing college (employees 25%; employers 32%) and "on the job" (employees 17%; employers 16%). Only one in 10 (employees 11%; employers 9%) felt entrepreneurship is an innate skill that comes naturally. For full report visit

"We began this process nearly a year ago and are frankly surprised that the employers and employees are in agreement on the value of the country having a more 'entrepreneurial workforce,'" said Jack Kosakowski, President of Junior Achievement USA, which sponsored the Gallup poll as part of its Junior Achievement Innovation Initiative. "We also could not anticipate that the new Administration would be making entrepreneurship a priority as part of its agenda for education, which we believe opens the door for a new way of thinking about workforce development in this country."

During his March 10th speech on education to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, President Barack Obama called on the nation's governors and state education chiefs to "develop standards and assessments that don't simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity."

"The world of work is changing rapidly and our workforce needs to adapt quickly to an environment where adding skills and retraining will be key," said Jonas Prising, President of The Americas, Manpower, Inc. "There is a feeling in the American workplace that the country needs to do things differently to compete in the global marketplace. This requires workers to be more innovative but also our government, business leaders and educational facilities need to take action together to ensure workers and students are being enticed to participate and stay involved. The challenge is, how do we get there from here?"

To help address the question of how America's education system can change to foster a more "entrepreneurial workforce," Junior Achievement formed the Junior Achievement Innovation Initiative. The goal of the Initiative is to conduct research and then incorporate the best thinking of business leaders, workforce development organizations and educators to develop an action plan that Junior Achievement and other organizations can follow to help develop an "entrepreneurial workforce." Recommended actions from this Initiative include:

  • Encourage the concept of filling the "Motivation Gap" with entrepreneurial and experiential learning models that are delivered through schools.

  • Use additional research to determine if the promotion of self-motivation can lead to greater demand for a more rigorous and relevant curriculum from schools.

  • Help key stakeholders recognize that motivation and mentorship are critical to success of all young people.

  • Recognize that both hard skills and life skills are required by an individual to be become marketable and successful.

  • Help young people to "learn to learn" and "learn to navigate" our existing education and workforce development systems to obtain those skills they will need to succeed.

About JA Worldwide(R) (JA)

Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programs for students which focus on three key content areas: work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Today, 137 individual area operations reach more than four million students in the United States, with an additional five million students served by operations in 123 other countries worldwide. For more information, visit


In support of the Junior Achievement Innovation Initiative, telephone interviews were conducted by Gallup. Two separate sample groups were used to complete a total of 1,101 interviews. The first group was a national sample of 800 full-time employees. The second group comprised a national sample of 301 employees/employers with responsibility for hiring employees.

The questionnaire was developed by Gallup, in consultation with representatives from the Lindberg Group on behalf of Junior Achievement. All interviewing was supervised and conducted by Gallup's full-time interviewing staff.

Interviewing was conducted from October 7 through November 6, 2008. For results based on the 800 full-time employees one can say with 95 percent confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects could be plus or minus five percentage points and for the 301 respondents with responsibilities for hiring decisions it is plus or minus eight percentage points.

    Ed Grocholski
    (703) 778-7642

SOURCE Junior Achievement