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Brussels, 8 February 2013
Entrepreneurship education needs to be boosted
Between 15% and 20% of students who participate in a mini-company programme in secondary school will later start their own company, a figure that is about three to six times of that of the general population. Investing in education for entrepreneurship is one of the highest return investments policy-makers in Europe can make to support growth and business creation. Yet, according to a recent Eurobarometer Entrepreneurship survey three quarters of Europeans say that they have never taken part in an entrepreneurship course. The acquisition of entrepreneurial abilities also enhances the employability of our youth: according to recent research, 78% of entrepreneurship education alumni were employed directly after graduating at university, against 59 % of a control group of higher education students.
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:
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.