Business / Economy

Let us see some substance behind SME rhetoric

By Nick Bevens (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-18 09:44

When Premier Li Keqiang first announced that new-business creation would become his economic priority in September, it immediately forced around 50 of the country's top universities to put together plans for their own entrepreneurial departments and courses. But those in education generally agree that such steps are still in their infancy and much more needs to be done.

I am reliably informed that a joint United Kingdom-Chinese education program aimed at developing grassroots entrepreneurial skills in schools, and degree courses in universities across China in association with UK institutions will be launched during President Xi Jinping's trip to the UK in October.

But the proposed courses are unlikely to take off for at least one more year.

Even then with a hiatus of four to five years until the first "qualified" young entrepreneurial grads come into the market, a yawning skills gap will persist.

Within all these plans, there is still no word, however, on any formal vocational training or affordable professional advice, for those already in the workplace.

From what I have gathered, about the best available is word-of-mouth advice from friends, family or contacts involved in their own businesses.

In the UK, the complaints of startups are largely the other way around to what they are in China. Many complain there are too many services being offered, making the choice confusing.

City and regional chambers of commerce, government-funded local enterprises and incubators, organizations such as the Prince's Young Business Trust, accounting and law firms and banks, not to mention venture capitalists along with any number of private enterprise-funded startup schemes, jostle fiercely for the best ideas and minds.

No amount of government rhetoric will ever deliver the actual skills needed by the huge number of entrepreneurs China is now looking to create, of all ages.

What is needed is a well-funded, nationwide entrepreneurial advice framework or toolkit, if the country is genuinely serious about creating a startup-friendly society.

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