The importance of stakeholder relations in the Danish national strategy on entrepreneurship

Christian Vintergaard, CEO The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship – Young Enterprise

The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship works to ensure that the ability to be innovative becomes a fundamental element in all educations from primary school to PhD level. This is not an easy task, and to succeed with it, a large network of engaged stakeholders to facilitate and aid the process is necessary.

In 2010 the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship was founded. It is backed by a four-ministry partnership and a large number of both private and public organizations and companies, and this is crucial to the Foundation’s primary goal, which is to spread entrepreneurship education at all educational levels. The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship is also a member of JA Worldwide.

This blog will in short form outline some of the more important aspects of the strong business and other partner relationships, which the Foundation has developed over the years, and show how the different partnerships are self-perpetuating in the process of implementing entrepreneurship education.

Entrepreneurship education as part of the Danish innovation

The current Danish national strategy is “Denmark – a nation of solutions” from 2012, which builds on the “Strategy for Education and Training in Entrepreneurship” from 2010. The main points in the current strategy are that:

  • More societal challenges should be solved through innovation
  • More knowledge should be translated into value
  • Educations must increase the capacity of young people to be innovative

The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship was founded to implement the strategy in 2010 and the importance of the Foundation’s work continued in the broader innovation strategy and its focus on entrepreneurship education at all levels of the Danish education system. The Foundation’s role is to ensure that innovation and entrepreneurship are embedded in educations and to act as a knowledge centre. To oblige this task, the Foundation has developed its own strategy for 2015-2020 with three main focus areas:

  • Spread entrepreneurship education in the Danish education system
  • Enhance the quality of entrepreneurship education
  • Have a focus on catalyzing activities

But one thing is a strategy – another is how to transform the vision into reality. In order for this to be a success, the Foundation has since its establishment focused on developing strong relationships with a broad variety of stakeholders.

The four-ministry partnership behind the Foundation

Behind the Foundation’s four-ministry partnership are the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, The Ministry of Business and Growth, the Ministry for Children, Education and Gender Equality and the Ministry of Culture. The partnership ensures that the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship has a strong political backing, and that entrepreneurship education is a political priority from a national point of view. The Foundation regularly meets with the partnership to show the results of the Foundation’s work and to address new areas of interest.

Engaging educational institutions

The partnership is also relevant when looking at the most crucial part of the eco-system of entrepreneurship education: the education system. It is very important to engage the primary, secondary and tertiary level educational institutions to make sure entrepreneurship education gets a solid foothold in the schools and among the teachers. Our experience is that the schools should not only be offered to participate in competitions. In Denmark schools and educational institutions can apply for funding of development projects which focus on entrepreneurship. This gives the schools a sense of ownership, which is important for their commitment and therefore has a big impact. In the past five years more than 500 projects have been supported by the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship.

The Foundation also hosts a network for entrepreneurship teachers, where they can exchange knowledge and get new inspiration and which arranges an annual conference and study tour. Right now we are also developing a new national continuing training program for teachers within entrepreneurship education, which will start up in 2016. On top of this, we offer a number of JA entrepreneurship education programs including the Company Program, as well as competitions and education programs.

Business partner relations

A third and very important part of our stakeholder relations is the range of private and public organizations and companies who are committed to the Foundation and to the vision that all pupils and students must meet entrepreneurship during their education. These companies and organizations represent the labour market and by engaging them we ensure that the education system and its heirs share the same goal. By maintaining a strong partnership with both the education sector and the representatives of the labour market we stand stronger in getting the attention of the policy makers.

The three parts of the “stakeholder wheel” are equally important, and the Foundation has since the beginning worked on establishing strong relationships with all three parties to create a common entrepreneurship thread in the whole education system. But why are they interested in us? Why do they want to be affiliated with the Foundation and its work? A big part of the answer is evidence-based knowledge.

Evidence-based knowledge is our biggest asset

The Foundation has since 2010 mapped entrepreneurship education in Denmark and also carried out continuous measurements of the impact of entrepreneurship education. We are also involved in several international research projects – such as the EE HUB. The knowledge we gain and the progress we see from these projects is very important in establishing new partnerships and strengthening the existing partnerships. Our work is backed by evidence-based knowledge and this makes us a trusted partner.  

A short overview of the results from the impact measurements shows that pupils are more amenable to learning through entrepreneurship at the early stages of their education. So by introducing entrepreneurship early on, the pupils’ level of involvement and their entrepreneurial intentions increase significantly. At the same time the pupils get higher ambitions for job and further education, they enjoy going to school, feel connected to their classmates and supported by their teachers. At a higher education level entrepreneurship education also increases the students’ entrepreneurial intentions, and here it is important that the students feel a sense of ownership of the projects they are working with.

To sum up, our experience is that if we want to succeed in spreading entrepreneurship education throughout the education system engaged stakeholders are key. We have to pull together - and pull in the same direction - if entrepreneurship should be for the many and not for the few. That is why stakeholders in all aspects of society are essential and why this is part of the Danish model.

Category : entrepreneurship education Posted : 13 November 2015 15:41 UTC
About the Author
Christian Vintergaard, CEO The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship – Young Enterprise

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