If half of the entire student population had practical experience of setting up a company while still in school, what would be the individual and wider societal impact? This is just one of the questions addressed by the Innovation Cluster for Entrepreneurship Education (ICEE).
A policy round table organised in the framework of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU in Tallinn (Estonia) on November 16-17 and attended by more than 100 experts, policy-makers and government officials, educators and school representatives debated the main findings of this multi-country research and policy experimentation project. Evidence collected confirms the benefit of entrepreneurship education and provides new insights about elements that previous studies were not able properly to address.
“This kind of research is essential—an important validation for those who are already experienced in this field—but also a key influencer for those policy makers advocating for greater uptake of EE in the school system. The more impact data we have—especially of this kind which compares results across multiple borders—the more young people who will benefit”, said Caroline Jenner, CEO at JA Europe.
“Entrepreneurship Education is an alternative, but important part of education. I hope that every young people has the opportunity to be involved. Using the words of Benjamin Franklin, I would say that no nation was ever ruined by being smart” said Mailis Reps, Minister of Education and Research of the Republic of Estonia.
It is clear that investing in entrepreneurship education leads to greater entrepreneurial ambition and employability, higher start-up rates and self-perception of capacity to succeed. But what is the impact on students’ learning, attendance and motivation for school? What are the elements that make it work and the ones hindering its uptake? What do parents think? And are teachers fully equipped to embrace this new way of teaching?
Considering the widespread use of mini-companies in European schools, the ICEE research has used the JA Company Programme as its test-bed and involved a wide range of stakeholders. The sample of 12,000 students, teachers, parents and business volunteers is large enough to obtain robust and comparable data and to draw relevant conclusions:
Impact on Students
Entrepreneurship education has impact not only on students’ learning outcomes. Young people participating in mini-companies while being at school have higher school motivation, go to school happier and more often (even when they are sick), and, above everything, improve their overall performance.
Entrepreneurship education has a positive impact on learning in other subjects and supports development of all key competences for lifelong learning. This is the outcome whether students chose voluntarily to participate in the programme or found themselves on it as part of the compulsory curriculum.
Higher exposure is correlated with better results. Students spending 100 hours or more in the Company Programme during a year are far more influenced by the programme than those spending less or no time.
Impact on Teachers
Teachers gain a closer, more respectful relationship with the students and appreciate the pedagogical advantages of this way of learning. However high-quality teacher training is still needed, especially for newcomers. Support from the school leadership and the possibility to interact and reflect on their practice are two important elements that can help in increasing the penetration and effectiveness of entrepreneurship education.
Support from government and business sector
Making entrepreneurship education a priority at the national level and creating win-win solutions to strengthen the cooperation between the education system and the business sector helps in raising awareness, highlighting the value of entrepreneurship education and supporting its uptake.
Cooperation between education system and labour market needs to be strengthened. More support and acknowledgement from education ministries on the value of entrepreneurship education would push it forward faster in Europe.
Parents are happy about the opportunity their children have to gain transversal skills and learn in a more practical and non-theoretical way. If properly informed about the learning process that entrepreneurship education promotes, parents can act as an important driver for entrepreneurship education in school.
ICEE’s research identifies the elements on which more work is needed to increase the penetration of entrepreneurship education. It also demonstrates that, when students are allowed enough time to work in their mini-company, this participation can be very useful for their professional future but also for their learning experience in general.
These findings are the fruit of an Erasmus + policy experimentation project led by JA Europe in collaboration with Ministries of Education in Estonia, Finland, Italy and Latvia and Enterprise Flanders (under Belgium’s Flemish Ministry of Economy); three research institutes (Eastern Norway Research Institute, The Foundation for Entrepreneurship – Young Enterprise Denmark, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University in Croatia), and five national JA organizations (in Belgium, Finland, Italy, Estonia, and Latvia). The research was led by the Eastern Norway Research Institute and it involved 25 academic and vocational schools in the 5 participating countries over two years. 12,000 people responded to pre and post surveys and 150 people were interviewed.
The final report of the impact research will be published in January 2018.
About JA Europe
JA Europe is Europe’s largest provider of education programmes for entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. In 2016, we equipped 3.5 million students in 40 countries with the knowledge, skills and attitude they require to start a business or get a job. JA works with the education and business communities as well as governments to provide young people from primary school to university with experiences that build the skills and competences they will need to succeed in a global economy. JA Europe is the European Regional Operating Centre for JA Worldwide®.
About the JA Company Programme
The JA Company Programme is a practical entrepreneurial experience where students have the opportunity to set up and run a “real” mini-company while being at school. The programme targets students (15-19 years old) at secondary level, it involves teachers and business volunteers in a role of coaches and mentors and it includes competitions and other activities organised locally. During the process, students work in teams and practically learn how to cooperate with others to achieve a result. By the end of the programme, they participate in trade fairs and in national and international competitions where they can interact and compete with other teams from other countries.
Communications & Digital Media Manager, JA Europe