NFTE Releases New Research Showing Significant Benefits of Youth Entrepreneurship Education

The landscape of work continues to change profoundly, with technological advances, automation, artificial intelligence, a growing gig economy, and disruptive new business models. Many of the familiar career paths that have been relied upon are disappearing.

Another troubling trend is that experts see a widening talent gap, with many who are entering the workforce lacking the core job skills that hiring managers are looking for. In these 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 has long been at the forefront of teaching entrepreneurial mindset to students in underserved school districts. It became clear that finding a way to measure teaching of entrepreneurial thinking was the next step in testing the impact of entrepreneurial learning. The NFTE research team set out to answer the question- can the entrepreneurial mindset be measured?

As part of NFTE’s research mission, NFTE worked with the support of business leader, Ernst & Young LLP (EY) and the assistance of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to close that knowledge gap and develop a new tool, the Entrepreneurial Mindset Index (EMI).

Even though it is known that entrepreneurial thinking is important, there was no real valid way to measure it, or the measurability of teaching the entrepreneurial mindset, until now. NFTE’s recently released new research shows the 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.

NFTE’s research suggests that teaching entrepreneurial thinking 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 establishes key findings based on results from NFTE’s Entrepreneurial Mindset Index (EMI), an assessment tool, developed and designed specifically to measure attitudes and behaviors associated with being an entrepreneur.

This pioneering tool is one that NFTE has started using to measure its impact to better understand how to plant the seeds of entrepreneurial thinking and develop those ideas into actions and lifelong successes for its students. This new research draws on student outcomes 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 within the EMI 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.

It was exciting to see that 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 initial findings was a measurable increase of college attendance among students who were exposed to the NFTE curriculum. 74% of NFTE alumni enroll in college, compared to 46% of low-income students overall. And within the youth population, 25% of NFTE alumni have started a business, compared to 2% of the general youth population.

This indicates that 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 and have a 70% greater chance of wanting to own a business at the end of a NFTE course.

With the help of our long-time supporter and thought partner, EY, NFTE hopes to give as many students as possible these transformative mindsets and continue to collaborate on our ongoing research to effectively and efficiently prepare youth for the rapidly changing future of work.

To download NFTE’s new whitepaper, please visit: