More than three-quarters of American students in fifth through 12th grades would like to be their own bosses, yet only half report that their schools offer any classes on how to start or run a business or about money and banking, a new survey of financial literacy and entrepreneurship has found.
The Gallup-HOPE Index, the first of what is to be an annual report, was drawn from a Gallup Student Poll
that surveyed 1,721 students in partnership with Operation HOPE, a nonprofit group that provides financial information to students.
Jim Clifton, the chairman and CEO of Gallup, said the information is essential in a country where jobs are not only crucial but have become a defining factor in people’s lives.
“As long as I’ve seen data, Gallup and everybody else’s, there’s a discovery that’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen . . . The great American dream, the will of America, over the last 60 years has been peace, to have a family, to be able to pray to the God you want, freedom . . . that was the social construct, the will of the democracy,” he said at a conference today to introduce the data.
“That’s changed . . . the great American dream has changed from peace, family, and all those things to having a good job. That seems subtle, that’s a huge sociological shift because it changes everything that we do. It changes when we get married, or if we get married at all, changes how many kids we have, puts women in the workforce, but it changes how everybody thinks about jobs.”
Although a government stimulus package might help, he said, jobs have to be built “organically.” Only 1,000 of the 6 million businesses in American have 10,000 employees or more, he said, adding that the whole economy rides on the backs of small businesses.
Jon Carson, deputy assistant to President Barack Obama, said the information in the Gallup-HOPE Index is “absolutely crucial” because “you cannot improve that which you can’t measure.”
The survey findings also showed that the “majority of students also demonstrate persistence and are willing to assume risk — both of which are qualities typically characteristic of entrepreneurs.” Just over 90 percent agreed with the statement, “I am not afraid to take risks even if I might fail” and 85 percent agreed with, “I never give up.”
However, knowledge of the tools to start and run a business is lacking. Just 54 percent said their school teaches about money and banking, and 50 percent said their schools offer classes in starting and running a business.
Actual experience also is lacking, with just 5 percent reporting they were interning with a local business and only 19 percent reported working an hour or more in the past week.
“Given the slow pace of the U.S. economic recovery and persistent unemployment and underemployment rates, developing the entrepreneurial attitudes and experience of young people is critical to helping them grow up and be productive workers who ultimately help to create jobs,” the report said. “Continued measurement and understandings of these attitudes can also help to inform strategies for building a pipeline of business builders who will help their local communities thrive in the future.”
Josh Wright, the acting director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Education and Financial Access, said the report will be an amazing tool.
“We do need to do a better job of inspiring and educating our kids around financial education and financial matters,” he said.
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