Entrepreneurship - a voyage not a destination

Radovan Živković, Head of the VET Department at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, Republic of Serbia

According to official statistics, the unemployment rate for young people in Serbia is currently around 40%. While it is one of the biggest problems facing the country, a similar issue can also be found in other countries in the Western Balkans, and indeed across Europe.

However, recently news about a direct transition initiative from school to work was published in the local media regarding a group of students in a small town near Belgrade. The news drew attention of a wide array of media, an occurrence that happens rarely when the issue concerned is in the field of education. 

The initiative is related to the employment of ten students from a vocational upper secondary school in a world-known company, where they had two-year apprenticeships following the model of work-based learning. During this period the students spent three months in the company, while simultaneously in the second year of secondary education, and during their third year of secondary education they spent a period of three months during two occasions in the company. Studying while working concurrently enabled them to acquire not only the required professional qualifications, but also good working habits, a sense of teamwork and insight into the everyday life of an adult employee.

But can it be said that this group of young people undertoook an entrepreneurial venture? Absolutely Yes! If entrepreneurship is understood as the ability to seize a business opportunity, then this is an excellent example as it was the students who seized the opportunity. By engaging themselves in the learning phase they developed required skills and knowledge for that industry, and they also formed desirable attitudes to work, business-like manners and relationships with colleagues. Such a proactive approach in the process of learning led to job offers and establishing permanent employment relationships. 

Creating and using a business opportunity is at the core of entrepreneurship education. It is very well visible in the latest Entrepreneurship Competence Framework (EntreComp), developed on behalf of the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, by the Joint Research Centre. The Framework comprises 15 competences divided into three areas (Ideas and Opportunities, Resources, Into Action) and one of the areas highlighted is precisely aimed at the ability of an individual to create ideas and using opportunities that might arise.

An example of a group of students who have successfully used a business opportunity, which emerged during the learning in the workplace, represents a powerful message for all other students around the world about the importance of entrepreneurial attitude during the learning process. From this story, we see that an entrepreneurial venture is not only and exclusively the establishmentof one‘s own company, especially not in the case of young people without professional experience. It is also about the quick transition from school to work and later about improving a business processes in the company where one works. 

Another important message is that entrepreneurship does not start after finishing school. It starts with the entrepreneurial attitude, behaviour and practice during the schooling. Firstly, as engagement and willingness to learn, and later, when is it possible, as a practical application in some form of a student's company. The acknowledgment of acquired entrepreneurial competences is reflected in prompt job finding and subsequent advancement in the work place. Establishing one’s own business in the majority of cases comes later (though not necessarily for every individual) and  represents just one possible output of entrepreneurship education. The beauty and sense of entrepreneurship, for the majority, is therefore about constant striving for improvement and development rather than in the quick achievement in the form of founding one’s own company. Such a concept of entrepreneurship will become a guiding idea of life and the privilege of the majority, not only of exceptional individuals.  


Category : skills for employability Posted : 27 December 2016 17:16 UTC
About the Author
Radovan Živković, Head of the VET Department at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, Republic of Serbia

Radovan Živković is working on activities in the field of VET schools, taking active part as an expert in the field of VET education, curriculum, teacher training, entrepreneurship development, innovation management for SME and leadership, establishing the structures and platform for participation of companies in all relevant segments of VET. He was in charge of implementing and reporting the Strategy for Competitive and Innovative SMEs in Serbia, especially for the pillars related to education. Radovan has a lot of experience in working with international organisations on different projects related to EE and the development of functional connection between economy and education. He is founder and first president of Serbian Council for lifelong entrepreneurial education and he is a member of the European Comision VET Working Group ’Education and Training 2020’: Teachers and trainers in work-based learning/apprenticeship.

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