Entrepreneurship for South Australia

In Parliament - Wednesday, 23 February 2016

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (16:53:18): I rise today to discuss the need for entrepreneurial skills to be embedded in South Australia's curriculum. As we hear on the news, almost daily, South Australian young people are at risk of unemployment. The current unemployment rate of youth in South Australia is about 15.6 per cent; higher in our northern suburbs. This is appalling, to say the least, and reflects terribly on this current government.

I feel for all parents of young people who, after all their hard work putting their children through high school, see children facing unemployment. Long gone are the days of expecting to leave school and have a job for life, but I think that young people would find that quite boring these days anyway.These days, young people are masters of technology; we are globally minded and prepared to find solutions to the challenges that we face. As a society, we should be encouraging young people to try out new ways of finding work, and I believe teaching entrepreneurial skills can be just the place where young people should start on that journey.

Oprah Winfrey was not a girl born into privilege. She did not have an expensive education or anyone to rescue her as she made her way through the entertainment industry, yet today she is worth billions of dollars and is an inspiration to many women and men alike. She said:

For every one of us that succeeds, it's because there's somebody there to show you the way out. The light doesn't always have to be in your family; for me it was teachers and school.

Imagine teachers and schools showing young South Australians how to be entrepreneurial, showing by word and deed how to think up new ideas and reach niche markets and opportunities. Imagine young people in South Australian schools starting up businesses with ideas that suit their personalities and qualities, therefore keeping them out of the 15.6 per cent of unemployed youth and reversing and stemming the brain drain of our best and brightest across so many fields.

We see on a daily basis that young South Australians are leaving this state. As we head into O'Week at the beginning of the academic year, there are hundreds of young South Australians who graduated here last year who are beginning their further education and job prospects in another state and another city. I have talked about my sister for many years who has been living in Melbourne, and this week my brother starts university in Melbourne, and he represents another part of that brain drain.

He is doing that because he knows that in his chosen field there will be greater opportunities in another state rather than our own beautiful South Australia. He is not alone. I know the member for Chaffey has talked about this issue with his own kids, about young people leaving South Australia, and it is endemic. It is really a poor reflection on this government—

Mr Whetstone: Two of them just have.

Mr DULUK: Two of the Whetstones are no longer in South Australia. We all have that experience. If this continues, how can we ever expect to find the solutions to many of South Australia's problems if we do not have the next generation of our best and brightest staying in this state?

Back in 2006, University of South Australia Emeritus Professor Denise Bradley wrote in The Sunday Mail about her vision for South Australia. Among many excellent points, she advocated for entrepreneurship to be taught at all levels of the education system. I agree with Professor Bradley that all children throughout our state education system would benefit from learning to think up new ideas for our current problems.

In January just gone, Dr Neil McGoran, Chief Executive of the SACE Board, acknowledged that young people need to be ready for the future economy where innovation and entrepreneurial skills will be highly valued. By teaching young people to think as entrepreneurs, we would be teaching them to solve problems, and that is invaluable in this modern workforce.

In its 2014 Charter for a More Prosperous South Australia, Business SA documented the need for the study of entrepreneurship to be embedded into the secondary school system. In the charter, point 7.1 says:

The study of entrepreneurship should be embedded into the secondary school curriculum to provide all students with an understanding of what is involved in starting and operating a business.

I think we all acknowledge, certainly in this house, that small business is an important part of our economy. The Liberal Party has always been the party of small business. Teaching young South Australians those skills involved in running a small business is invaluable, in my view. Small business is a major employer in South Australia. In my own seat of Davenport there are hundreds of small businesses that service the community, employ local people and sustain the family.

Small business is the lifeblood of the community in my electorate. My constituents love living in Blackwood and the surrounding suburbs, not just because of the lovely environment but because they are fiercely local and parochial. They support local small businesses first and are always keen to try out new businesses in this area. Many small businesses want to hand down the business from one generation to another but, of course, this cannot happen if young South Australians are leaving this state because they do not see those opportunities of the future.

What better training and breeding ground for our next generation of small business owners than in our schools? Our young people often get their first job in small businesses such as local bakeries, takeaway restaurants and fruit and vegie shops. All those local small businesses are great training grounds for many young South Australians and, of course, this is the training ground that leads to people starting their own business. By teaching entrepreneurial skills, young people will have a chance to learn about how businesses work and how they can put their ideas into action, action that will see prosperity for the state and reduce long-term unemployment.

Speaking at the recent InDaily SA Business Index Top 100 launch, Professor Jana Matthews, Director of UniSA's Centre for Business Growth said that the country was 'missing an opportunity to tap into and nurture a pool of young business talent'. She added that 'you've got to start further back down the pipeline' in education. Indeed, we should be starting in primary school. We should be focusing on the fundamentals. We should be focusing on what we are good at.

Business people, academics and ordinary South Australians want to see our schools teach young people how to think up solutions for the future. Young people have the drive and energy. They have an understanding of technology like no other generation. They know what services they would like to buy, what products are good, and which trend is on and which is not. They are the best people to drive new businesses. Let's teach our young people how to prosper, how to get an idea off the ground and what to do, and let's do all we can to reduce unemployment and the brain drain in South Australia.