Motivated but Unsure: Teens Interested in Entrepreneurship, but Worried About the Economy

Junior Achievement and the National Chamber Foundation Announce Free Enterprise National Survey Results

Sep 20, 2011, 12:09 ET from Junior Achievement USA

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In a national survey, released today by Junior Achievement USA™ (JA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's National Chamber Foundation (NCF), U.S. high school juniors revealed their knowledge and perceptions of entrepreneurship, free enterprise and capitalism and how these factors will influence their future career choices. The Free Enterprise National Survey found that 64 percent of high school juniors were interested in starting or owning their own businesses, but the survey also revealed that many are concerned about the economy. This may result in fewer students choosing an entrepreneurial career path. However, high school juniors strongly believe it is important that high school students are taught about entrepreneurship, free enterprise and capitalism in school. 

Both JA and NCF agree that education is key to empowering young people to embrace the risks and rewards of entrepreneurship and intend to further partner to bring JA's entrepreneurship programs to more students. The survey results were discussed today at a town hall meeting at Friendship Collegiate Academy ( in Washington, D.C.; more than 200 students and school leaders participated, in addition to top leadership from JA and the NCF.

"Knowledge of the free enterprise system, its benefits to citizens and its relationship to job creation is important for young people across the nation, to the vitality of our communities and to the availability of a well-educated workforce," said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and chief executive officer, Junior Achievement USA. "Junior Achievement programs reach more than four million students every year, but we must continue to expand these programs in an effort to educate our future leaders. As a result of this survey, JA will work with the National Chamber Foundation to strengthen our existing partnership around delivering entrepreneurship education programs." 

The survey's results confirm the need for and value in providing entrepreneurship education for high school students, through both classroom-based and co-curricular learning opportunities. At least 9 in 10 juniors believe it is important to be taught about entrepreneurship, free enterprise and capitalism, yet less than half (45 percent) have been taught about entrepreneurship in school and 57 percent have been taught about free enterprise in school. JA and NCF are committed to strengthening their relationship through support of Junior Achievement's JA Be Entrepreneurial® program. Delivered by corporate and community volunteers, this program focuses on challenging high school students to start their own entrepreneurial venture through interactive classroom activities that provide relevant, hands-on experiences. 

The Free Enterprise National Survey also found that while many juniors are interested in starting their own business, they are worried about the state of the economy. Seven in 10 high school juniors believe that the economy will either stay the same or get worse in the coming year, and 9 in 10 are concerned about future job prospects after they finish high school. 

"The Chamber is constantly focused on emerging business issues, and members of Congress and the administration should take note that our nation's young people are sharing many of the same concerns about the economy as the majority of working Americans," said Margaret Spellings, former secretary of education and president of the Chamber's U.S. Forum for Policy Innovation. "In business, we value employees that can think strategically and outside the box, and we as leaders need to encourage learning opportunities that enhance the core principles of free enterprise to develop these skills early on." 

Additional findings from the Free Enterprise National Survey show: 

  • High school juniors believe that entrepreneurs play an important role in job creation and American success, and 64 percent are interested in starting or owning their own business someday. In fact, 15 percent of respondents had already started their own business, including businesses involving lawn services and babysitting. Of those students who had ever started their own business, 58 percent said it was for financial reasons. 
  • A majority of juniors understood the meaning of capitalism and free enterprise. Most have a positive view of capitalism (70%) and even more have a positive view of free enterprise (84%). 

The Free Enterprise National Survey was conducted within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Junior Achievement USA and the National Chamber Foundation between July 11 and August 1, 2011, among 2,213 16-17 year olds who were high school juniors during the 2010/2011 school year. Data were weighted to be representative of the U.S. high school junior population using targets obtained from the U.S. Census. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available upon request. 

For an executive summary of survey results, log on to

About Junior Achievement USA™

Junior Achievement (JA) is the world's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. Today, JA reaches four million students per year in 124 markets across the United States, with an additional six million students served by operations in 119 other countries worldwide. Visit for more information.

About the National Chamber Foundation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The National Chamber Foundation (NCF), a non-profit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is dedicated to identifying and fostering public debate on emerging critical issues.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

SOURCE Junior Achievement USA