Sunday, September 17, 2017

Summary Report: 2017 APEC Workshop “Linking Education and Start-ups: Youth, Women, and Athletes”

Gary Chen synthesized
     The Linking Education and Start-up: Youth, Women, and Athletes, a workshop jointly organized by the Sports Administration, Ministry of Education and the Vietnam Sports Administration, was held in Hanoi on May 13. The workshop was attended by 14 government sports officials, senior sports scholars and experts, athletes, and young entrepreneurs from 8 economies namely: Mr. Sean Wroe, Director of Sakura Finance, Australia; Dr. Mehander Singh, Director of Ministry of Education, Malaysia; Ms. Sharon Wee, Director of Sports Warrior Global, Malaysia; Ms. Peggy Tng, Deputy Director of Singapore Sports Institute, Singapore; Atty. Carlo Abarquez, Executive Director of the Philippine Sports Commission, the Philippines; Mr. Richard Shih, Representative of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Viet Nam; Ms. Maggie Hsu, Director of Sports Administration; Mr. Cheng Ho, Funder of Choxue; Mr. Jeff Hsu, Founder of Hope Tennis Academy; Mr. Nitikorn Rochanavibhata, Director of Sports Authority of Thailand, Thailand; Dr. Rungchai Chaunchaiyakul, Associate Professor of Mahidol University, Thailand; Mr. Volker Heistermann, Managing Director of Yushan Venture, United States; Ms. Le Thi Hoang Yen, Deputy Director General of Vietnam Sports Administration, Viet Nam; and Dr. Ha Viet Dang, Director of Ho Chi Minh National Sport Training Center, Viet Nam, highlighting the sports and education policies and paradigms focusing on education for female athletes and youth entrepreneurship.

     One fundamental issue seriously concerns athletes, who devote all their times  preparing for domestic and international competitions, maintaining the best condition through relentless training, and competing for the highest honors against athletes of other economies, is their career path after retiring from sports competition. After exchanges and discussions on policies concerning education and entrepreneurship for youth and female athletes, delegates from different economies at the workshop proposed three key points: career path planning, youth entrepreneurship, and female participation in sports. Each of the key points is elaborated in below.

Career Path Planning
     Most of the athletes have to deal with the time allocation pressure of attending school while keeping up with training. This is the exact situation when a student athlete losses balance between competition-driven training and school education. Concerning about this, the governments draw up better policies that allow student athletes to meet the flexibility of training and study.

     We have supportive policies included in school education already for student athletes, such as study counselling and preferential school advancement option are available for outstanding students during their schooling years. In addition, Thailand and Singapore in recent years have entered into cooperative memorandums with education institutes, where athletes may receive education and flexible curriculum at schools near their training sites. Similarly, the Vietnamese government also offers free education at sports schools, where student athletes of 12 to 18 years of age may take professional sports training at sports schools and regular education at nearby schools, saving considerable commuting time for study.

     The Philippines, however, has no specific sports college because the Philippines wants their young athletes to keep good school grades while developing their athletic potentials. As a result, many state-run universities offer tuition discount/exemption for athletes with good school grades. They believe this juxtaposing study-sports policy may facilitate young athletes’ future career path. Other than the policies hereto, Malaysia, where more attention is paid to early development of athletes, adopts the policy of “One Student, One Sport”, stipulating that all full-time students of 11 years of age must participate at least one sport activity, so that every student participating in sports may experience the benefits of sports. While students participate in sports, schools may scout out the talented and the potential ones for further development. In addition, the Singapore Sports Institute sponsors career path planning events throughout Asia every year targeting on athletes to promote athletes’ career path planning.

Youth Entrepreneurship
     When facing career transition, most retiring athletes would consider developing their own businesses. Entrepreneurship counselling provided in advance can greatly help athletes to prepare themselves in the early stage. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Index, we are ranked number one in Asia, right after Australia in Asia Pacific; our people and entrepreneurs have highly developed entrepreneurship spirit.  Currently the Ministry of Education is running the U-Start Program, which is an entrepreneur service specifically designed for college graduates. The program not only encourages college graduates to participate in start-ups, but also provides subsidy and operational assistance for potential start-ups that have passed the Program’s evaluation. The Sports Administration, Ministry of Education, also provide guidance for sports service business, such as “I’m an Athlete Entrepreneur” project; through incubation, financing, and operation guidance, these projects encourage young students to put their innovative ideas into new businesses.

Both Singapore and Malaysia have policies to encourage youth and athlete entrepreneurs. The SpexEntrepreneurship project in Singapore aims to cultivate entrepreneur spirit and quality among athletes and help athletes to realize their entrepreneur dream in the future without compromising the quality of their routine training. The Malaysian Global Innovation & creativity Center, MaGIC, is a Malaysian initiative that strengthens capacity of entrepreneurship among young students who are keen to start their own business by providing a professional platform that connects to entrepreneurs worldwide for sharing and exchanging, offering business development, production management courses, and global accelerator project. As of now, the initiative has successfully helped more than seven thousand young entrepreneurs to start up their own businesses.

Promoting Female Participation in Sports
     The Southeast Asian economies participating in this Workshop have stronger female competitiveness in sports than male athletes. Female athletes contribute no less than male athletes in general competitions. In this regard, Vietnam and Philippine delegates revealed that female athletes face harsher challenges both at homes and in training. Therefore, the Philippine Sports Commission and Vietnam Sports Administration shall continue to apply policies that inspire female athletes to consider and plan for their retirement life in advance. In Singapore and Malaysia, where gender equality is advocated, no policy or plan specifically designed for female participation in sports or female athlete education is provided.
     This year we have released its first female sports white paper that announces three major visions: health female, friendly environment, and sports empowerment, which aim to increase female population of habitual exercise, develop tolerant and supportive sports culture and environment, improve female status and value in their sports participation, encourage more female to adopt habitual exercises that benefit their health and stamina, give more opportunities for female of all social classes to participate in sports, integrate resource, and propose directions for future development of female participation in sports.

     There are plenty of policies addressing to career path planning, youth entrepreneur, and female participation in sports in all economies. Regarding to sports and education policies adopted in all economies, in a general view, a partnership among government, enterprise, and school can be of great help for the youth, female, and athletes in all economies. In this partnership, government play an important role of bridge and resource integrator that provides opportunities for enterprises and schools to work together, allowing the youth and athletes to fully utilize resources. At the same time, government should sponsor more symposiums concerning Woman Ambassador with successful young entrepreneurs as speakers. Successful career transition experiences provided by female athletes and young entrepreneurs themselves, promotion and awareness of leadership enhancement through sports, and encouraging more young students at basic level to adopt habitual exercise since childhood are the only ways to effectively cultivate spirit of entrepreneurship among the youth, female, and athletes during their participation in sports.

(Gary Chen is an Assistant Research Fellow, TIER)


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