December 1, 2013

Economist: Require College Students to Learn Business Skills

Former HBCU president says university students must learn some basics, gain another language

By Ninfa Saavedra
Grambling State University Media Bureau

New Orleans, La. – Using “requirement” often, nationally known economist Julianne Malveaux said historically black universities need more entrepreneurial approaches and more bottom-up help for students — even requiring some things they desperately need.

“HBCUs should have entrepreneurship centers,” Malveaux told a group of about 70 influential business representatives at a Bayou Classic business summit Wednesday. “Young people don’t know how to dress in their jobs or talk in their jobs…In the entrepreneurship center students would be taught these skills.”

A San Francisco native, Malveaux was the keynote speaker during the half-day event in the Rivergate Room at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.  The Bayou Classic collaboration on the importance of universities role to prepare students for a competitive business workforce and connecting them to global entrepreneurship’s. Grambling State University faces Southern University on the football field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Saturday and the two institutions cooperate on multiple events leading up to the weekend game.

Malveaux, founder and thought leader of Last Word Productions, Inc., a multimedia production company headquartered in Washington, D.C., was the 15th president of Bennet College in Greensboro, N.C. While there, she identified four key areas: women’s leadership, entrepreneurship, excellence in communications and global awareness.

Malveaux encouraged the audience to use the summit as a “stepping stone,” taking the information to maximize HBCUs’ values while preparing students for the international employment workforce. She said more HBCU students need to speak more than one language, a surefire way to have more job opportunities. “Only one of 10 African Americans speak something other than English,” she said.
Language is one limitation, she said, but some students do not take advantage of opportunities such as internships. Malveaux said students shouldn’t start their junior and senior years in college looking for internships; instead, students should start searching starting in high school.

Young people need to learn more about the business world and the real cost of borrowing. Malveaux said students can get a loan to get a car but they don’t understand the value of borrowing to get a good education. She talked about how a lot of college students look forward to what they call “refunds,” a loan proceed of available funds beyond what is needed to stay in school. These are not really refunds but loans that have to be paid back.

Malveaux encouraged educating more entrepreneurs. She said some African American-owned businesses are not as successful because too many are in competition with each other instead of going into business with one other. She said 1.8 million black-owned businesses have one employee “because they don’t know how to expand.”

Ed Robinson, a New Orleans business owner, said one word describing Malveaux’s talk: “GREAT!”  He said he agrees with her that more HBCU students should get paid for internships because they have expenses many of their families cannot cover.

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Media Contact:
Will Sutton



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