More than 80 schools, youth and community groups across Western Australia have taken up a program to improve the financial literacy of Australian teenagers.
Started by the founder of mortgage group Astute Ability Finance Group, Mhairi MacLeod, the School Entrepreneurs Program offers high school students a course on money management and running their own start up business.
It runs in conjunction with the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) and has Richmond AFL star Alex Rance as an ambassador.
MacLeod and the MFAA recently relaunched the program nationwide with a fresh curriculum and new resources, with a massive response from schools and brokers, particularly in WA.
MacLeod said, “The take up in WA is the biggest we have had in the whole country, which is fantastic.
“More than 80 WA high schools, youth and community groups have now joined the School Entrepreneurs Program since the relaunch, while the interest from brokers has also been significant with 130 nationwide looking to get involved.”
The program involves finance brokers delivering a course of lessons voluntarily to high school economics classes or youth groups in their local community.
Topics covered include setting up a business, developing business plans, product development, marketing strategies, human resources, strategies for profit, loss and future business direction.
MacLeod added, “Finance brokers are ideally positioned to deliver this program due to their financial literacy and competencies as well as their business management and administration experience.
“How it works is they partner with a local high school or similar institution, and then work as business advisers alongside the teachers, helping students develop, launch and manage a mock start-up business.
“The standard pre-designed program can be delivered over the course of six to ten weeks, for an hour each week. It is a fun way to engage students and get them thinking about business. Although the program has been pre-designed, brokers can easily tailor it to suit their students' needs, or their own style.”
MacLeod said the need for the program was highlighted by the results of an OECD international student assessment report last year which found around 20% of 15-year-olds in Australia did not have basic financial literacy.
“Thousands of young Australians have benefited from taking part in the program and acquiring knowledge and skills which will make them more self-sufficient and better prepared for adulthood,” she said.
“We hope there will be even more support with government funding and employer subsidies to grow the program to its full potential to teach all Australian high school students about money management and business.”