Global trade has come a long way since Marco Polo’s voyage connecting the East to the West. The exchange and transportation of goods can now be completed in hours by air rather than months by sea.
Yet, despite our world being more connected than ever, geopolitical friction is placing the future of international trade in jeopardy. As nations become more insular, the new generation of entrepreneurs must understand the value of global trade, especially in creating more possibilities for their businesses and the local communities they support.
Our increasingly connected world is opening up new realms where both the components of manufacturing and final end customers may be found across international borders, not just in domestic market places.
Businesses and technology have begun to interact in ways that break conventional boundaries. Australian students are already prolific digital natives, tech-literate and tool-adaptive. But digital-savvy alone is not sufficient to ensure commercial success. To help this generation build their lives and achieve the same or greater successes than their parents and grandparents saw, a clear pathway needs to be put in place. Students need guidance towards gaining business and financial literacy so that they become not just work ready, but ready to capture and harness entrepreneurial opportunity.
Entrepreneurship, however, is not a standard feature in the school curriculums in our region. As a concept, entrepreneurship borrows from many different disciplines, making it more complex to teach as a specific subject than, say, math or economics. Nonetheless, there is a process to entrepreneurship that can and should be taught and there are institutions and organisations in the region that have been established to deliver it.
Cross-generational sharing is another valuable approach in connecting young students to future possibilities. At FedEx, we work with Junior Achievement for example, who exemplifies this approach in its programs which it takes to classrooms across the Asia Pacific region. The International Trade Challenge is just one of many powerful platforms connecting executive mentorship with raw talent to the benefit of all. Using a combination of classroom teaching and international competition, the Challenge inspires young people to better understand entrepreneurship, think globally and create innovative approaches to international business.
As Australia enjoys prosperous growth, these young entrepreneurs of the future are growing up during a time of countless opportunities. We have a responsibility to nurture this generation; to help them stand on the shoulders of the pioneers who have been breaking down the barriers to global trade and spearheading progress in today’s world.