That’s according to a new report from Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) which conducts more than 200,000 interviews globally across more than 70 economies.
It says that just 8.7 per cent of 18-24 year old Australians are setting up or owning a business; in the US the figure is 13.5 per cent.
Associate Professor Paul Steffens from QUT's Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research, who heads up the GEM in Australia, said the data provided "compelling evidence that enterprise education at school matters - and it matters a lot".
The Professor says that in other age groups the level of entrepreneurship is roughly in line with comparable economies but that in young adults there is a lag of around 40 per cent.
The GEM data shows that where enterprise education is part of the school curriculum 18 per cent of 18-24 year olds in Australia went on to become entrepreneurs, compared to 8 per cent of those who did not receive enterprise teaching. The 10 per cent difference was also found in the 25-34 age group.
"Global leaders increasingly recognise that new businesses are a key driver of new jobs, with OECD data showing that 41 per cent of jobs created from small or medium enterprises fewer than three years old," the professor said.
Professor Steffens has recently attended a meeting of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance which is prioritising education for young people in the G20 nations, especially with youth unemployment causing concern for many leaders and entrepreneurship providing an opportunity.
Professor Steffens said: "The latest data from the GEM shows that if we want to equip young people to take advantage of this opportunity, we need to imbed enterprise education into their schooling."
Australian students are falling behind those of the US due to a lack of enterprise education.