Valley Works: Entrepreneurship requires training

FRESNO, Calif.

But it takes a certain set of skills to start out on your own and make your company a success.

Creativity, problem solving, critical thinking - all skills many company's value today and skills employers say must be taught in the classroom.

You've seen or experienced work situations like the ones shown in the movies. There doesn't seem to be an emphasis on creativity or thinking outside the box.

Dr. Timothy Stearns with the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Fresno State says that's because many workers have been taught to follow a process, keep things stable and moving. He says those are not the skills businesses want or need in the 21st century. What they want are innovators.

"We are talking about pro-activity, we are talking about networking, figuring out where resources are and coming up with ways of combining them and coming up with different resources or different type of solutions," Sterns said.

Stearns says to get workers with 21st century skills you need to change the way you teach them.

There is no sitting at your desk and taking notes in this classroom. The students are encouraged to take charge, create and come up with solutions.

"They learn how to think creatively and think outside the box which is really important," Linda Jean Voth of Roosevelt High School said.

Voth heads the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship program at Roosevelt High School. Students learn valuable skills such as money management, critical thinking, problem solving - all the tools needed to start and run a business .

20-year-old Jaronie Samnang went through the program at Roosevelt and created his own t-shirt line called Funkydemix.

"It just made my mind clear, I control what I wanted to do, I wouldn't have to work for anybody, I could start whatever business I wanted to whatever passion I had," Samnang said.

Samnang, now a business major at Fresno State, doesn't know if he'll continue in the t-shirt business but there is one thing he knows for sure.

"I'm always going to be thinking in the future what I can do," Samnang said.

Instructors say that is why teaching entrepreneurial skills to students is so important - it's not so much about getting them to start their own businesses but to transfer those skills to the workplace. Stearns says he gets calls constantly from businesses wanting his students and this is what they tell him.

"I don't have to tell them what to do. They know what they have to do. I can simply give them an assignment and they will come back with something that will be of value to me," Sterns said.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship engages students starting with the kIds Invent Summer Program at Fresno State. There are also programs in the high schools, community colleges and Fresno State.

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