New National Poll: More Than Nine-in-Ten U.S. Teens Say Entrepreneurship Should be Taught in School

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More than half surveyed would like to start their own businesses.

to take control of your destiny and set your own career path.

The results of a new national poll released today by Junior Achievement indicate that an overwhelming majority of U.S. teens--92 percent of those surveyed--believe that entrepreneurial skills should be taught in college or earlier. The "Junior Achievement Teens and Entrepreneurship Poll" defined entrepreneurial skills as "taking the initiative and assuming risk to create value for the company or business, either as an owner of your own business or in your place of work."

The survey also found that 51 percent of teens would like to start their own businesses someday. However, perhaps reflecting the current challenging economic climate, 88 percent felt it would be "difficult but possible" or "somewhat challenging" to do so. These findings underscore the need for more widespread entrepreneurship education in schools, so that students are better equipped with skills such as leadership, problem solving and critical thinking, which increasingly are seen as keys to success in today's global, knowledge-based economy.

"Teens are not only paying attention to the economy, but these poll results also clearly demonstrate that they're also hungry to learn the skills it takes to start and grow a business," said Jack Kosakowski, president, Junior Achievement USA. "We believe all students should have the opportunity to follow their dreams. Learning to be an entrepreneur is an important skill set that students can develop over time to take control of their destiny and set their own career path."

The survey found that nearly half -- 46 percent -- felt that "during grades K-12" was the best time to learn entrepreneurial essentials. While schools might not be adequately addressing the topic, business leaders agree that entrepreneurship adds value to the workplace. In a separate study conducted by Gallup for Junior Achievement in November, 2008, in which 1100 employees and those responsible for hiring decisions at their companies were surveyed, 61 percent of both groups indicated that being entrepreneurial at their companies was either "very" or "somewhat" important. And, the overwhelming majority of employees surveyed -- 96 percent--said that it was important for the American workforce to become more entrepreneurial to remain competitive in the world.

The collective cry for increased entrepreneurial thought and action--and for entrepreneurship education in school -- is being answered by Junior Achievement, which today unveiled its newest program, JA Be Entrepreneurialâ„¢, created through support from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The program, whose implementation is sponsored by UPS, is targeted to high school students; through hands-on activities and the support of a classroom volunteer, helps students start and run their own business ventures.

Commenting on the release of JA Be Entrepreneurial, Ellen Thrasher, Director for Entrepreneurship Education, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), noted, "Young people continue to have a strong interest in entrepreneurship and being exposed to new opportunities to hone their craft. SBA is proud to work with organizations like Junior Achievement, which has a long track record of helping nurture young people's entrepreneurial spirits and giving them the tools to succeed, such as leadership training, understanding and applying good business ethics, and developing teams. SBA is committed to helping young people understand the resources available to them as they pursue their dreams of business ownership. JA programs and community-based services across the country give aspiring entrepreneurs the practical tools they need to get started, and the confidence to succeed."

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 23 percent of teens who want to start a business said they were interested in starting a business that "helps the environment" or that "deals with the problems or challenges of our society."
  • The top reason cited by teens (26 percent) for wanting to start a business was wanting "to take control of your destiny and set your own career path."
  • Respondents were almost evenly split between feeling there was more job security in owning their own business (47 percent) versus working for a company (49 percent).

More information about JA Be Entrepreneurial, including a series of free, supplementary podcasts, can be found at:

This is the seventh year that Junior Achievement has conducted the poll, which attempts to gauge teens' attitudes around business ownership. The survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation from August 20-24, 2009, and surveyed 1,000 U.S. teens ages 12-17 by telephone. The survey's margin of error is +/- 3.2 percent.

Visit to read an executive summary of Junior Achievement's "Teens and Entrepreneurship" survey results.

Read about Junior Achievement's Gallup study on the need for a more entrepreneurial American workforce here:

About Junior Achievement® (JA):
Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programs for students which focus on three key content areas: work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Today, 131 individual area operations reach more than four million students in the United States, with an additional five million students served by operations in 123 other countries worldwide. For more information, visit


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