Why is entrepreneurship so important in education

Manfred Polzin, Senior Policy Advisor International Affairs, EUproVET

How to ensure that education delivers the right skills for the labour market and the growth of entrepreneurship, while delivering support to young people to secure their economic future and enable businesses to grow and create new jobs. Can we learn entrepreneurship and why is it so important?

Let’s have a closer look to this issue from three different angles.

Labour market
There is no need to pay a lot of attention here to the benefits of entrepreneurship for the labour market and the economy in general. We all know that self-employment is a powerful tool to create work and to boost the economy. We also know that an entrepreneurial attitude is nowadays a necessity, not only for entrepreneurs but also for employees.

Benefits for school management
In many countries schools are nowadays run like companies. While public funding is in many countries decreasing, there is an increasing pressure on schools or colleges to be accessible, affordable and accountable for producing successful students. This means that management, teachers etc. need to be able to tap the critical skills of entrepreneurship to tackle and resolve issues of enrolment, retention and student success. Thus, making the best use of resources has become a big challenge that school management is facing today and it is exactly what entrepreneurs are doing to run their business with success.

Benefits for learners
To increase student engagement and success - and favourably impact completion rates - students need to be equipped with the perseverance and determination of an entrepreneurial mindset.
If education equips students with an entrepreneurial mindset at the outset of their careers, they will be more engaged and take ownership of their own success. Moreover students who were involved in ways of entrepreneurial learning were in most cases rather enthusiast about this, as they found that this kind of learning was more fun and was experienced as more meaningful than the traditional ways of learning (these were the experiences of the learners that were involved in the EU project Edison).

Good news
The good news is that you can learn entrepreneurial skills and that it is not a matter of being a born entrepreneur or not. Skills like critical thinking, problem solving, communication, risk bearing, working in a team and self-reliance are not only natural gifts, but they can be learnt.
How this can be achieved differs enormously and there are very many ways to do so, but it is certainly more comprehensive than just adding the subject ‘entrepreneurship’ to the time table. It requires vision and a thoughtful strategy of staff recruitment and training.

Good examples
There is a growing number of schools and school systems in- and outside Europe, that are moving in this direction. The TES project is one of the largest entrepreneurship education initiatives in Europe, aiming at supporting teachers‘ professional development in applying the entrepreneurial learning in several subjects and learning environments (primary, secondary, upper secondary and vocational schools).

Entrepreneurial learning is also a very powerful tool to improve the access of disadvantaged groups to the job market as it was demonstrated by several initiatives, e.g. the projects of the German organisation ‘ChancenGleich’.

The already mentioned Edison project with partners from the UK, Netherlands, Ireland, Austria, Italy and Spain is focussing on training the trainers, as this is a crucial prerequisite for teaching entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial acting.

Common features for entrepreneurship education (EE) are that school management is committed to advance entrepreneurship in their communities, create an entrepreneurial culture in their schools or colleges and in some cases support local start-ups and small businesses. All this requires close cooperation between the different stakeholders in a region and the willingness to enter innovative learning instead of sticking to traditional learning pathways.


Category : entrepreneurship education, education Posted : 8 September 2015 07:20 UTC
About the Author
Manfred Polzin, Senior Policy Advisor International Affairs, EUproVET

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