The entrepreneurial intention (EI) of the bachelor of commerce accounting students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).
Mtshali, Thabo Wonder.
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The South African labour market is struggling to create job opportunities for citizens and it is hard to counteract unemployment with relevant skills demanded by various industries. The unemployment rate was 25% in 2015; however, it has increased to 27.7% (Stats SA, 2017). Entrepreneurship plays a vital role in reducing poverty by creating job opportunities. Countries like South Africa should focus on developing young innovative entrepreneurs at university level specifically. Efforts started in 2017 when the Department of Higher Education and Training launched a national student entrepreneurship programme. This is a positive initiative; however, various degrees need to be aligned to this initiative to support the venture theoretically to develop and enhance entrepreneurial thinking, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, entrepreneurial intention and entrepreneurial action amongst students and graduates. The Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) students follow a structured academic program of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). This accounting body defines the minimum qualifications and standards expected for accountants. The University of KwaZulu-Natal employs standards and procedures that are in line with SAICA policies. The Accounting degree also focusses specifically on money management modules. The main purpose of this study was to assess the levels of Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) final-year students’ entrepreneurial self-efficacy and entrepreneurial intention at the Westville campus. The study investigated whether a gap exists between the Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) curriculum versus the knowledge and skills required for successful entrepreneurs. The researcher used the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) to determine if Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) students are capable and ready to become entrepreneurs. There were 303 Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) final-year students in 2017 at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus. From the population of 303 students, a sample size of 170 students was identified to participate in the study. Data were collected using questionnaires and analysed using descriptive statistics to describe the characteristics that are common in the sample. Data analysis tools included mean scores, standard deviation and variance. Inferential statistics were used to compare data between males and females. The reliability of the results on each construct was measured using the Cronbach Alpha Coefficient. The results showed that students are willing to start their own businesses and become entrepreneurs, but they lack entrepreneurship education to equip them with the necessary skills to start their businesses. The results also revealed that students have positive attitudes towards becoming entrepreneurs, especially when they are supported by family, friends, classmates and society. Even with these positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship, the Perceived Behavioural Control construct showed that students are not likely to start businesses because they lack entrepreneurial skills and have limited knowledge and understanding about operating and managing a business. Despite their strong positive attitude towards starting businesses, students need entrepreneurship education.