Should the European Union favour the Entrepreneurship education?

February 8, 2013

Funding Scheme: 2013-02-08


According to the recent Eurobarometer survey, investment in Entrepreneurship education is more and more solicited in Europe, especially that the large number of the young people prefer to set up their own businesses after studies.


Today in Bologna at the fourth meeting of EU SME envoys, European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, presented recent Commission projects on educating the educators (see below). The SME envoys also discussed with VP Tajani and EU SME envoy Daniel Calleja Crespo the Entrepreneurship Action Plan launched in January, which contains initiatives for entrepreneurial education and training.

Since 2009 the EU has co-funded a series of projects to support entrepreneurship education:

Nine projects co-funded by the Commission already directly benefitted around 6 500 students and young people and 900 teachers. Considering the indirect effects (as a result of dissemination and information activities, production of pedagogical materials, etc.), the number of young people benefiting from those projects grows to at least 100 000. However the added value of these European projects lies especially in their potential for extension, transfer and wider dissemination within the Member States:

The Entrepreneurship Summer Academies gave 320 higher education professors, lecturers and assistant professors from universities and polytechnics across Europe advanced training on how to teach entrepreneurship. This training was provided by some of the best experts in the field, coming from prestigious universities in Europe but also in the US. All these educators committed themselves to become the ambassadors of entrepreneurial learning in their respective institutions, thus ensuring a multiplier effect. In total, all EU co-funded projects have directly benefitted around 6 500 students and young people and 900 teachers.

Three more projects were carried out on creating innovative pedagogical materials to be used in the classroom. Work on real business cases is one of the most effective ways to learn about entrepreneurship, but this method is not yet sufficiently widespread and very often case studies in use are imported from the US, instead of having a European and a local dimension. Thanks to this initiative, 88 new case studies were created, all based on European businesses.

This pedagogical material can be widely used by teachers all over Europe. The following case studies are available:

Eech – the case for learning

European Entrepreneurship Case Study Resource Centre (after free on-line registration)

Startent case study book

Other projects funded by the EU supported the organisation of entrepreneurial competitions for young people, the creation of a pedagogical game, female entrepreneurship and the promotion of entrepreneurship in rural areas. Information on all projects

A follow up call for proposal, published in 2012, addressed some of the main obstacles that still stand in the way of increasing entrepreneurship education and student participation, and focused especially on preparing and supporting teachers, such as:

Train primary, secondary and higher education teachers – since qualified teachers are still the largest bottleneck in providing entrepreneurship education:

Create a European online platform for educators to facilitate peer coaching, mentoring and advising, broadening support and exchanges beyond national borders

Develop new methods and indicators to assess entrepreneurial skills acquired by students.

As a result, seven new projects co-funded by the European Commission have just started. Among the project coordinators and partners are some of the most important players in the field, like leading universities in entrepreneurship, NGOs and research institutions.

The full list of project beneficiaries and partners

Education is key area of the Entrepreneurship Action Plan

Entrepreneurial education and training to support growth and business creation is one of three key areas identified for immediate intervention by the European Commission’s Entrepreneurship2020 Action Plan. The Plan is a blueprint for joint action to revolutionise the culture of entrepreneurship and create a more supportive environment for entrepreneurs to grow and thrive.

While a number of Member States have successfully introduced national strategies for entrepreneurship education or made entrepreneurial learning a part of curricula, more action is needed. Education should be brought to life through practical experiential learning models, real-world experience and the participation of entrepreneurs. Defined entrepreneurial learning outcomes for all educators are needed, to introduce effective entrepreneurial learning methodologies into the classroom. In the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan that it adopted on January 9 of this year the Commission invited Member States to ensure that the key competence “entrepreneurship” is embedded into curricula across primary, secondary, vocational, higher and adult education before the end of 2015.

Entrepreneurship education and Secondary schools

In the Entrepreneurship Action Plan the Commission invited Member States to offer the young people the opportunity to have at least one practical entrepreneurial experience before leaving compulsory education, such as running a mini-company, being responsible for an entrepreneurial project for a company or a social project. The Commission also intends to establish, as part of the “SME Week”, a Europe-wide EU Entrepreneurship Day for students in their last year of secondary education. Events could include meetings with entrepreneurs, case studies, lectures, workshops and company open days.

Entrepreneurship education and Higher education

The role of higher education in entrepreneurship goes far beyond the delivery of knowledge to participating in ecosystems, partnerships and industrial alliances. With high-tech and high growth enterprises increasingly becoming a focus of entrepreneurship-related public policies, higher education institutions are an active component of the innovation policies of Member States. EU Higher education in entrepreneurship can boost high-tech and high growth companies by supporting business ecosystems, partnerships and industrial alliances. 

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