An assessment of the attitude towards entrepreneurship among higher education students in Sedibeng district
Kgagara, Murutluluga Reuben
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Entrepreneurship has played an important role in economic prosperity and social stability in many developed countries. Today South Africa as developing country is faced with massive challenges of high levels of unemployment among the youth, especially university graduates, due to lack of work experience, low skills base and education. The formal labour market in South Africa is currently saturated, unable to absorb the ever increasing number of labour force; hence, the decision by the government to prioritise the development and support of small medium enterprises. Beside all these interventions, South Africa is still ranked among the lowest of all developing countries participating in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). Today entrepreneurship is offered in most of the universities as part of the curriculum but it is evident that levels of entrepreneurship are still not improving in the country. There has been an upward trend in the number of young South Africans entering higher education; this can be attributed to the poor market conditions for low–skilled workers and the high monetary benefits to education. The daunting observation is that while the graduate labour force is on the rise, a large number of graduates possessing diplomas and degrees are finding it difficult to find employment. Graduate unemployment in South Africa has been rising very fast since 1995 along with national unemployment. In this study the entrepreneur was used casually to refer to the owner or creator of a new business, small, growing, and successful business. This includes any person who sets up a small business, or changes from being an employee of an organisation to being self employed, even though neither needs any significant degree of innovation nor capital. Risk taking and risk tolerance is one component of entrepreneurship that is very critical, hence there is a need for more attention in the entrepreneurial education. In the discovery perspective, cognition has impact on the chance that some people will identify and seize the opportunity. Opportunity identification depends on prior awareness and knowledge, whilst exploitation depends on having the necessary capabilities. Entrepreneurs should be able to read and recognise patterns for them to recognise opportunities. Profile of an entrepreneur and skills required are technical skills, perseverance, communication skills, managerial skills, leadership skills, innovative skills, pro–activity, information seeking skills, and financial skills. The primary objective of this study was to assess the attitudes and perceptions towards entrepreneurship among students in a higher education institution in the Sedibeng District of the Gauteng Province. The empirical study was conducted among the population and recommendations on entrepreneurial education were compiled. The survey was conducted using a self–completion questionnaire method, whereby questionnaires are handed out to respondents for self–completion and returned to the researcher immediately. In an effort to encourage high response, the questionnaire was accompanied by a cover letter which assured the respondents of confidentiality. An attitude scale to test the prevalence of entrepreneurial attitudes and perceptions among the respondents was used. The Likert scale was used whereby the respondents were asked to rate a particular issue on a scale that ranged from strongly disagrees to strongly agree. The majority of the respondents are predominantly young Africans, from low income families with only few parents that made it to university level, and mostly not involved in entrepreneurship. The gap exists with regard to equipping the respondents with entrepreneurial education and training. The university and other stakeholders should create an environment that is supportive towards entrepreneurial activities. There are still many business opportunities that need to be explored in South Africa but the biggest challenge remains the access to knowledge and information with regard to available support structures. Tertiary institutions should: Develop start–up capital systems for students whilst studying. The curriculum design should support employability skills such as languages, starting your own businesses, presentation skills, creativity and leadership abilities, specific qualifications focusing on business creation should be developed, case studies should focus more on opportunity orientated ideas and business and lecturing staff should be empowered to support entrepreneurial activities in their respective fields. Databases of possible business ideas should be developed. A conceptual research model that will support accelerated youth entrepreneurship should be developed in the country and research institutions should be contracted to populate this research model. Furthermore, government regulations should be tested regarding their impact on youth entrepreneurship development as a standard item. Fresh approaches are thus needed to stimulate youth entrepreneurship in rural areas. Therefore, policies and programmes to encourage youth entrepreneurship in these areas should be researched. National competitions for youth entrepreneurs should be encouraged and visible events should be organised such as enterprise weeks at tertiary educational institutions. Tertiary institutions can also investigate the possibility of business hives for students or allowing students businesses to operate on campuses for the duration of their studies.