One of the most overlooked categories in Workforce Development, especially as it relates to low-income and underserved populations, is teaching the general principles of entrepreneurship. In this sector most services tend to lean towards employment training, adult basic education, English as a Second Language (ESL), along with standard job searching and resume development assistance.

These offerings are all needed and provide tremendous value. However, I believe in our current environment, and in light of the way the world of work is changing, entrepreneurship training should be added to the mix.

Many people, including those in these income brackets, have dreams of running their own business. This is not to say that after receiving training everyone is going to run out and start their own business.

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Yes, it is entirely possible that it could happen for some, however, that is not the main reason for offering this training. Entrepreneurship training offers so much more in terms of the intangible “soft skills” that are integrated into the training. Having these skills would make those who may never start their own business much more attractive as employment candidates.

A good entrepreneurship training program would help participants develop essential skills – including but not limited to:

  • Decision-Making Skills
  • Increased Self-Awareness
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Time Management Skills
  • Leadership Skills
  • Problem Solving Skills
  • Innovation and Creativity Skills
  • Teamwork or Collaboration Skills
  • Financial Skills

These tools are critical for both the entrepreneur and the employee. If an individual is not interested in starting a business, possessing these skills along with an understanding of business in general makes them a far more attractive candidate for employment, and opens up a wider range of options for seeking employment.

Those who do desire to someday do their own thing will have a better understanding of business, and a firmer foundation on which to launch out and begin their endeavor.

We are in a new time. How work is being done has changed and these changes are here to stay. The “Gig” economy is growing, and an increasing number of people are seeking ways to generate additional revenue. Providing entrepreneurship to low-income and underserved populations will give them a fighting chance to participate in this new economy and this new world of work.

I am hoping that Workforce Investment Boards and County One-Stops will recognize the value for this type of training and add it to the mix of those services already being provided.

One can only hope.

Hollis Nelson is the Training and Technology Director at Greater Paterson OIC