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 six times of that of the general population.
Investing in education for entrepreneurship is one of the highest return investments policy-makers in Europe can make to support growth and business creation. Yet, according to a recent Eurobarometer Entrepreneurship survey three quarters of Europeans say that they have never taken part in an entrepreneurship course. The acquisition of entrepreneurial abilities also enhances the employability of our youth: according to recent research, 78% of entrepreneurship education alumni were employed directly after graduating at university, against 59 % of a control group of higher education students.
Today in Bologna at the fourth meeting of EU SME envoys, European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, presented recent Commission projects on educating the educators (see below). The SME envoys also discussed with VP Tajani and EU SME envoy Daniel Calleja Crespo the Entrepreneurship Action Plan launched in January, which contains initiatives for entrepreneurial education and training.
Since 2009 the EU has co-funded a series of projects to support entrepreneurship education:
Nine projects co-funded by the Commission already directly benefitted around 6 500 students and young people and 900 teachers. Considering the indirect effects (as a result of dissemination and information activities, production of pedagogical materials, etc.), the number of young people benefiting from those projects grows to at least 100 000. However the added value of these European projects lies especially in their potential for extension, transfer and wider dissemination within the Member States:
The Entrepreneurship Summer Academies gave 320 higher education professors, lecturers and assistant professors from universities and polytechnics across Europe advanced training on how to teach entrepreneurship. This training was provided by some of the best experts in the field, coming from prestigious universities in Europe but also in the US. All these educators committed themselves to become the ambassadors of entrepreneurial learning in their respective institutions, thus ensuring a multiplier effect. In total, all EU co-funded projects have directly benefitted around 6 500 students and young people and 900 teachers.
Three more projects were carried out on creating innovative pedagogical materials to be used in the classroom. Work on real business cases is one of the most effective ways to learn about entrepreneurship, but this method is not yet sufficiently widespread and very often case studies in use are imported from the US, instead of having a European and a local dimension. Thanks to this initiative, 88 new case studies were created, all based on European businesses.
Entrepreneurship education and Secondary schools
In the Entrepreneurship Action Plan the Commission invited Member States to offer the young people the opportunity to have at least one practical entrepreneurial experience before leaving compulsory education, such as running a mini-company, being responsible for an entrepreneurial project for a company or a social project. The Commission also intends to establish, as part of the "SME Week", a Europe-wide EU Entrepreneurship Day for students in their last year of secondary education. Events could include meetings with entrepreneurs, case studies, lectures, workshops and company open days.
Entrepreneurship education and Higher education
The role of higher education in entrepreneurship goes far beyond the delivery of knowledge to participating in ecosystems, partnerships and industrial alliances. With high-tech and high growth enterprises increasingly becoming a focus of entrepreneurship-related public policies, higher education institutions are an active component of the innovation policies of Member States. EU Higher education in entrepreneurship can boost high-tech and high growth companies by supporting business ecosystems, partnerships and industrial alliances.