Industry and Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship education key to economic upswing
How could youth unemployment become a thing of the past? Instead of struggling to convince firms to give jobs to our youth, European states could decide to devote more resources to teach youngsters how to set up their own business and become their own bosses.
For this cultural revolution to happen, education obviously plays a key role. Some people are born entrepreneurs. But in most cases, people learn how to become entrepreneurs. 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 five times of that of the general population.
"It is an illusion to think that jobs can be created by expanding already bloated civil services or providing incentives to big companies to hire. Most of the new jobs will come from successful micro companies or small and medium-sized firms. Many of them will be launched by young people. This is the real potential we need to exploit. Since the desire and ability to start a company do not stem only from personal temperament, we have proposed to include teaching and programmes to promote entrepreneurial spirit in compulsory curricula. This is key to tackle unemployment in Europe, especially among our youth."
Despite this evidence, European education systems usually do not teach entrepreneurial skills. This has to change. And it should happen at all levels. Member States are called to ensure that 'entrepreneurship' is embedded into curricula across primary, secondary, vocational, higher and adult education, before the end of 2015.
The Commission is urging universities to become more entrepreneurial and to increase their links with firms, in order to quickly turn researchers' and students' best ideas into profitable ventures.
Work is underway to facilitate university-driven business creation and to spur university-business ecosystems to address key societal challenges. A framework for entrepreneurial universities has been developed in cooperation with the OECD to help universities adopt tailor-made learning modules.
A more entrepreneurial-focused education must be complemented with appropriate training and support for new businesses. Students should be offered the opportunity to have at least one practical entrepreneurial experience before leaving compulsory education.
The youth guarantee scheme will provide new concrete possibilities. Our European budget will be used to finance training and new learning programmes for young people, and also for adults who need a second chance at education.
After their initial contact with entrepreneurship at school and university, potential entrepreneurs can obtain first-hand experience and widen their training and networking opportunities through the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs exchange programme.
Helping our youth is not only a duty but also a benefit, as start-ups can play a key role in re-launching economic growth in Europe and in spurring new ideas and business practices.