With June's employment numbers beating estimates, it's exciting to see workers once sitting on the sidelines of the economy getting back into the game.
Nonetheless, it's important not to forget the big picture: In today's economy many jobs are tenuous, and millions of workers are experiencing wage stagnation. Nearly half of Americans can't come up with $400 to cover an emergency expense unless they sell something or borrow money, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors found last year.
Given the financial situation of American consumers, it's not surprising that the first CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, released in June, found that jobs and the economy were the No. 1 concern for entrepreneurs, cited by 33 percent of respondents. The online poll took place April 17–28, 2017, among a national sample of 2,030 self-identified small-business owners ages 18 and up.
Entrepreneurial thinking has become a vital skill for navigating this environment. Intuit recently found that many people who are starting side businesses in the gig economy are doing so to supplement their income from a traditional job. Intuit projects that 9.2 million Americans will be working in on-demand jobs on digital platforms by 2021. That is not to mention the many self-employed people who have created their own jobs because, for one reason or another, they could not find a steady foothold in the economy.
Many of these individuals are getting by but not thriving economically. They could be earning far more from their efforts and prospering — and perhaps even finding interesting new career paths — if they were well versed in entrepreneurial thinking. Unfortunately, schools are failing to teach them the mind-set and skills they need to stay relevant in the economy.
At the moment, most entrepreneurship education in the United States takes place at the college level among a self-selecting group of students who are already interested in starting businesses. By moving beyond this approach and teaching entrepreneurship to every student before high school graduation, we'd be providing a vital service, helping to ensure that everyone in the general population has the skills to run a thriving business.