NFTE Releases New Research on Measuring Entrepreneurial Thinking in Young People

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Data shows youth who develop an entrepreneurial mindset are twice as likely to see entrepreneurial thinking as a skill that can help them in any career

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“The EMI is a pioneering tool and we’ve just started measuring its impact to better understand how we can best plant the seeds of entrepreneurial thinking and develop those ideas into actions and lifelong successes,” said Shawn Osborne, President and CEO of NFTE.

While unemployment remains low, experts see a widening talent gap, with many who are entering the workforce lacking the core job skills that hiring managers are looking for. Today, the educational nonprofit, NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) released new research which shows significant benefits of youth entrepreneurship education, including development of the types of skills that employers value most. The findings are detailed in a new whitepaper entitled Measuring Entrepreneurial Mindset in Youth.

Technological advances, automation, artificial intelligence, a growing gig economy, and disruptive new business models are all driving profound changes in the workplace. Many familiar career paths are disappearing. But in uncertain times, entrepreneurial thinking – including noncognitive skills such as the ability to take initiative, adjust to challenges, think critically, solve problems, communicate effectively, and collaborate – is increasingly valued. NFTE's research suggests that we can help students develop the particular set of skills and characteristics of the entrepreneurial mindset. And not only can the entrepreneurial mindset be taught; it can also be measured.

“It’s somewhat startling. Even though we know how important entrepreneurial thinking is, until now there was really no valid way to measure it – and no way to tell which teaching techniques were working,” said Shawn Osborne, President and CEO of NFTE. “So, as part of our research mission, we have worked with industry leaders and educational testing experts to close that knowledge gap and develop this great new tool, the Entrepreneurial Mindset Index.”

NFTE’s latest research establishes key findings based on results from NFTE's Entrepreneurial Mindset Index (EMI), an assessment tool, developed with the support of Ernst & Young LLP (EY) and the assistance of the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The EMI was designed specifically to measure attitudes and behaviors associated with being an entrepreneur.

NFTE research draws on student outcomes data and entrepreneurial mindset growth data collected through pre- and post- assessment of nearly 4,000 students at hundreds of schools across the U.S. The measurements include six constructs: future orientation, opportunity recognition, communication and collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, comfort with risk, and creativity. These characteristics of the entrepreneurial mindset are among the top ten skills required for employment today according to the World Economic Forum.

The latest research on the EMI establishes that the EMI is a valid and reliable assessment tool to measure entrepreneurial mindset growth. It also supports previous and ongoing research that strongly correlates entrepreneurship education with academic and career success. Among the findings:

  •     74% of NFTE alumni enroll in college, compared to 46% of low-income students overall
  •     25% of NFTE alumni have started a business, compared to 2% of the general youth population

Students who respond positively to entrepreneurship education:

  •     are twice as likely to have growth in their entrepreneurial self-efficacy
  •     are twice as likely to think about entrepreneurship as a skill that can be applied in any career
  •     have a 70% greater chance of wanting to own a business at the end of a NFTE course

“The EMI is a pioneering tool and we’ve just started measuring its impact to better understand how we can best plant the seeds of entrepreneurial thinking and develop those ideas into actions and lifelong successes,” Osborne said. “We are so grateful to our long-time supporters like EY, who help give as many students as possible, these transformative mindsets and collaborate on our ongoing research to shed light on how we can effectively and efficiently prepare youth for the rapidly changing future of work.”

To download NFTE’s new whitepaper, please visit:

About NFTE
NFTE is an internationally recognized nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset in young people. Research shows that the entrepreneurial mindset—skills including innovation, self-reliance, comfort with risk, communication, and problem-solving—prepares young people for lifelong success. Equipped with the mindset, as well as the business and academic skills that NFTE teaches, NFTE students are ready to thrive in the innovation economy no matter what path they choose. NFTE focuses its work on under-resourced communities. Through its nationwide network of program offices, NFTE partnered with 1,882 schools and community-based organizations across the U.S. last year, reaching more than 52,000 students. Partnerships in eight other countries allowed NFTE to serve an additional 53,000 young people internationally. Learn more at

NFTE Whitepaper Contact
Sophia Rodriguez
Director, Research & Analytics

Media Contact
Alyssa Miller

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