December 12, 2022

How entrepreneurship curricula can increase graduates employment opportunities

University graduates in Türkiye face difficulties in entering the labour market after graduation for various reasons; lack of experience, soft skills requirements, and opportunities have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. SPARK, in partnership with universities in Jordan and Türkiye with the support of the Qatar Fund for Development, gathers efforts to develop entrepreneurial curricula to equip students with knowledge and skills for the labour market. 

The Young Unemployed Platform has released a “Report on Unemployment and Employment in November 2021”, which indicates that graduating from a university does not guarantee employment in Türkiye. The report notes that over 19% of university graduates are unemployed in Türkiye, that’s one in five. The report also indicates that 970,000 women with university degrees are not looking for a job despite their high education level, which increases the gender gap in the workforce. 

SPARK, with its partners in Türkiye, conducted a series of assessments and discussions with universities and academic institutions to assess what can do to reduce unemployment and to help apply one of the most effective mechanisms for economic growth: entrepreneurship.

Global studies have shown that entrepreneurship is one of the most effective means of alleviating poverty in developing and transitional countries. In a new partnership with Kahramanmaras Imam Sutcu University (KSU) and the University of Gaziantep, SPARK implements Economic Resilience through COVID-19, financed by the Qatar Fund for Development to develop a market-ready entrepreneurship curriculum.

The curriculum encourages entrepreneurial mindsets and competencies among both teachers and students. Dr Fatih Balic, an entrepreneurship expert at the University of Gaziantep, says: “Our students need to find a job after graduation. When we looked at their options, we found that they are limited to the public and private sectors – continuing to run their family’s businesses or becoming academics. We work now on an entrepreneurial course to add entrepreneurship to their options.”

Entrepreneurial Approach to Learning and Teaching

Over 14 months, both universities will pilot entrepreneurial courses for 200 current students. 

So far, workshops and focus group discussions have been conducted to help develop the new market-relevant curricula. By bringing together SPARK education experts, university alumni and startup founders – including those who established, failed, or are in the process of launching a new startup – the curricula will be co-designed to develop real-world, practical entrepreneurship skills and knowledge. 

Together, the participants discussed the relevance of entrepreneurship education, and highlighted content and teaching methodology conducive to developing an entrepreneurial mindset that should be reflected in the new/upgraded curriculum. 

A discussion about entrepreneurship policies and regulations © SPARK 2022
A presentation about the expected outcomes for the pilot entrepreneurial courses © SPARK 2022
© SPARK 2022
© SPARK 2022

“Increasing the quality and number of entrepreneurs creates employment and supports innovation and the economic empowerment of individuals,” Prof. Hatice Kaynak from the University of Gaziantep.

Additionally, trainers (ToTs) training on content development for the new generic entrepreneurship course have been conducted where professors participated in two-day training utilising inputs from the focus group session. The outcome of these two workshops is to align the new entrepreneurship course in terms of content and teaching methodology with its application in the private sector. The validation of learning outcomes is expected to come out during the following months, when the first draft of the curriculum is expected to be developed, including the outline for the ToT to enhance teaching competencies.

SPARK, with funding from Qatar Fund for Development, works with its partners toward enabling fresh graduates to form meaningful mentoring relationships with experienced professionals, which allows them to unlock ideas, find tools, and learn best practices that can secure their decent job opportunities and transfer their ideas into a real business. 

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