From education to employment

With the rise of AI, enterprise education needs to be embedded in universities now more than ever

People looking at computer

Recent developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) mean that human tasks are becoming automated. This could potentially harm graduate employability, as more basic tasks and roles are normally more affected by automation. Enterprise education is a type of learning model that aims to prepare students for the business world. With the rise of AI, universities need to incorporate the enterprise education learning model into their curriculum to enhance graduate employability in the future of work, where a different set of skills and mindset are needed.

Why is AI an issue for the job market?

The generative AI model, Chat GPT 4 was launched in November 2022, and is set to cause major disruptions to the workforce due to its ability to automate human tasks. The main issue is potential job displacement. If AI can take your job, how can you earn a living? For example, OpenAI,  the founders of the GPT language model, found that nearly 80% of jobs could be changed due to ChatGPT. Some of the jobs most exposed to displacement included: writers, financial quantitative analysts and web designers.

The impact on graduates

Whilst sociology professor Eric Dahlin stresses that AI replacement of human workers will occur at a very low rate, it still raises concerns for early careers. Graduates are rightfully worried that their education may not be in demand due to how quickly AI is developing. Additionally, there are predictions that AI will create new jobs such as prompt engineers and AI trainers, that are highly skilled and will require more financial investment for training. Moreover, these jobs tend to lean towards tech specialisms, creating an inflexibility of financially viable career choices. In fact, the government is looking to push students into STEM subjects due to the increased economic benefits. But what does this say for those already invested in careers outside of STEM?

Furthermore, an Accenture report found that 40% of working hours could be impacted by language learning models like ChatGPT. Whilst this does free up time for higher thinking instead of repetitive tasks, we have to understand that the basic repetitive tasks like customer service and administration are how graduates usually get their foot on the career ladder.

The role of universities

Universities are more than just higher education institutions. For many people, especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, university is a gateway to gainful employment and a springboard to better social mobility. With the disruption AI is causing to jobs, the benefits of widening participation programmes and diversity initiatives may not be realised if universities fail to develop the skills and knowledge students will need to gain employment.

It’s clear that something needs to be changed in the university curriculum so that they fulfil their role. Furthermore, if universities continue to measure students’ attainment by assignments and grades which could be achieved with the support of AI tools such as Chat GPT, it will be important to incorporate better ways of measuring a student’s capabilities such as experiential learning.

What is enterprise education?

Enterprise education is a learning model that prioritises creative thinking and innovation to solve practical real world problems. In their 2012 report ‘Guidance for UK Higher Education Providers’, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) defined the aim of enterprise education as:

“to produce graduates with the mindset and skills to come up with original ideas in response to identified needs and shortfalls, and the ability to act on them”.

Enterprise education focuses on experiential learning. In their 2018 report, the QAA specified that this means students are learning by doing and then reflecting on the outcomes. Instead of learning about a topic for an exam, enterprise education is about learning through a topic to build the entrepreneurial capabilities needed for the real world.

Delivery methods include:

  • Enabling students to start and run their own business as part of their programme
  • Partnering with communities and businesses to provide action based activities such as providing consultants to clients, or social causes
  • Encourage cross-disciplinary approaches in both learning strategies and assessment
  • Develop realistic and relevant high engagement, high impact activities, such as simulations.

How will enterprise education enhance graduate employability?

There is no denying that enterprise education is highly influenced by the economic and business landscape. Its guidance has been shaped by a need to boost the economy and, although there is a push for cross discipline integration, it has mostly been practised within business departments. The economic streak in enterprise education makes it a key tool to help universities enhance graduate employability in the face of AI. Enterprise education would do this in three main ways:

  1. It cultivates the “intrapreneurship mindset” so graduates can be competitive for jobs

Firstly, the job displacement AI threatens to bring will cause a highly competitive job market. This will require a completely different way of thinking, where graduates need to learn how to take action and initiative in the face of uncertainty in order to thrive. Whilst the pressures of academia pushes them intellectually, enterprise education will build resilience by creating the ‘intrapreneur mindset’. This is a hybrid of the employee and the entrepreneur, as the individual uses entrepreneurial skills within an existing organisation such as SME’s. 

In essence, it’s the self-motivated ‘can do attitude’ already seen on many entry level job descriptions. Enterprise education means that students will have time to cultivate this mindset and to keep up with employer needs, prior to reaching the job market.

For example, a 2021 PWC report found that 30% of jobs would be automated in the next 20 years. In the face of the uncertainty that AI will bring, having the ability to problem solve for the organisation in a creative way will demonstrate a graduate’s value beyond anything automation could offer. Graduate’s would be able to offer a fresh perspective to organisations reflecting the solutions that their emerging customer base will demand. To embed this in the curriculum, universities could create optional modules where students work with organisations to carry out their projects and help solve real world problems.

  1. It bridges the digital skills gap

Moreover, the EU Commission says AI could be another factor adding to the digital skills gap. This gap, which involves skills like programming, digital design, and computer literacy, creates a shortage of skills that employers need. It was brought to light by the government’s Digital Strategy 2022 as it costs the government £63 billion a year.

However, the partnership between businesses and universities that the enterprise education model provides, offers a solution to this. Instead of relying on their own resources, enterprise education encourages universities to collaborate with businesses on projects, and this provides the perfect opportunity for students to begin working with AI applications and digital skills they will need in the workforce.

For example, the University of Leeds partnered with Institute of Coding and FutureLearn to provide a programme aimed at upskilling and reskilling in digital skills like social media, coding, programming and creating online content. Whilst there have also been a number of AI projects created in universities, these have mostly been in computer science departments. To really bridge the gap, this needs to be applied across the disciplines, which is exactly what enterprise education does. Universities could think about business scenarios that incorporate and test out  AI and digital skills training.

  1. It provides an alternative career path across disciplines

Furthermore, enterprise education is important to give graduates more career options and take advantage of AI as a powerful tool. The interdisciplinary projects within enterprise education will help them think laterally and become more well rounded which is needed for broadening their career options or self employment. Graduates could take advantage of the dynamic workforce and use powerful technology like AI to start their own ventures. As Christopher Harle, of innovation agency Nesta points out, even if most student ventures fail, it gives them real world lessons and a practical mindset that will set them up for successful careers. In the context of a changing job composition, this is especially important.

Also, the entrepreneurial mindset combined with skills from their discipline may create diverse goals beyond commercial enterprises, which will benefit wider society. For example, in the hands of humanities disciplines like philosophy or history which explore culture and society, AI may be used as a tool for social causes. Meanwhile, someone who has studied life sciences may be more interested in utilising AI to benefit green causes. Ultimately, AI will bring disruption but also opportunity, and it’s important that graduates are empowered with the skills, mindset and experience to take advantage of this and unlock their potential.

How to embed enterprise education into universities?

It is safe to say that there are signs of enterprise education taking place at universities. For example, Kingston University has provided hackathons, the University of Oxford has Venture Creation Programmes. These programmes offer opportunities where students can create their own business and pitch this to judges in competitions, simulating real life business scenarios. However, these are often extra-curricular activities. To fully embed enterprise education they need to be part of the curriculum.

Universities need to take the QAA 2018 guidance into account to support entrepreneurial thinking. Helen Hook, academic at the University of Birmingham, suggests that universities need to work with industry leads to shape courses that better reflect the demands of the real world. These leading voices should inform educators as to what employers really need so that graduates have a real understanding of what employers are looking for. Additionally, this also needs to be done across all disciplines to expose them to the world of work long before they graduate. Universities need to make sure they are consistent in making enterprise education a mandatory style of learning so that students have time to develop the behaviours and attitudes throughout their course. It should not be compartmentalised to one module, but interwoven throughout the degree.


In conclusion, enterprise education is an important part in preparing graduates for the future of work. AI and its developments mean that time is of the essence, as its important graduates are prepared for the challenges ahead whilst in education to enhance their chances of employability. Whilst the academic learning model in universities has its benefits, the intrapreneurship mindset, digital skills and innovation enterprise education offers are what will empower graduates to overcome job displacement that AI could potentially bring.

By Jalisa Ogundelu, Marketing Assistant @ GotDis

Photo by Desola Lanre-Ologun on Unsplash

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