For modern-day entrepreneurs in the US, embracing failure is a rite of passage and part of the journey to success. But the stigma of failure is rife in the UK, and prevails in all aspects of society, not least in the education sector.

The recent GCSE results saw young people across the UK either jumping for joy or bitterly disappointed. This year's results were the biggest ever year-on-year decline, leaving many feeling unsure about their next steps and what the future might hold.

Historically, the UK education system has been firmly grounded in the archaic attitude that if you fail at exams, you're bound to fail at life. Anyone in business will tell you this is not true. Entrepreneurs are not born, they are made.

There is no doubt that our classic exam-focused system works for some, but we need to look beyond this if we're to offer the next generation a broad skill set. At a moment such as this, when more and more young people are struggling to connect with traditional academia, it has never been more crucial for people to be aware of – and open to – alternative routes.

It is critical that there is a marked change in efforts to equip young people with the business acumen and soft skills needed to flourish in the real world.

According to the British Chambers of Commerce, over two-thirds of companies currently believe that secondary schools are ineffective at preparing young people for the world of work, and cite a lack of vocational training and work experience as a key part of the problem. A crucial lesson I learnt in my early days as an entrepreneur is that experience trumps everything.

I set up the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy to encourage young people to think entrepreneurially, and I continue to be astounded by their approach to the world of work on completion of their studies. Their boundless energy, creativity and willingness to innovate demonstrates why young people must be at the heart of the entrepreneurial community.

Many UK entrepreneurs who have become household names worth vast amounts of money have a failed venture in their past

In this uncertain post-Brexit landscape, enterprise has never been more crucial. We can no longer afford to sit by and let dated attitudes towards young people and their opportunities prevail. Now more than ever, our country needs a British Dream that prioritises enterprise education.

If the UK is to continue to house a fifth of Europe's start up-community, post-Brexit, we must invest in opening up the eyes of young people to the opportunities that setting up and working in a business present.

It was enterprise and the start-up community that lifted the UK out of its recent financial crisis, and we once again need to call on our nation of founders and business tycoons to come together, re-energise our community, and invest in the future of the UK as a hub of entrepreneurialism.

Many UK entrepreneurs who have become household names worth vast amounts of money have a failed venture in their past. My own story is certainly testament to this.

Failure cannot defeat you unless you let it. For young people out there who are reeling from poor exam results this week, I say this: there is no such thing as failure only feedback. This world has an incredible amount to offer, with or without a string of good exam results.


Peter Jones CBE is the longest serving Dragons' Den panellist and founder of the Peter Jones Foundation, launched in 2005.