Europe faces a number of challenges that can only be met if it has innovative, well-educated, and entrepreneurial citizens who, whatever their walk of life, have the spirit and inquisitiveness to think in new ways, and the courage to meet and adapt to the challenges facing them. Moreover, a dynamic economy, which is innovative and able to create the jobs that are needed, will require a greater number of young people who are willing and able to become entrepreneurs young people who will launch and successfully develop their own commercial or social ventures, or who will become innovators in the wider organisations in which they work. Because education is key to shaping young people’s attitudes, skills and culture, it is vital that entrepreneurship education is addressed from an early age. Entrepreneurship education is essential not only to shape the mindsets of young people but also to provide the skills and knowledge that are central to developing an entrepreneurial culture.
According to the Key Competence Framework, the entrepreneurship key competence refers to an individual’s ability to turn ideas into action. It includes creativity, innovation and risk taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. Developing mindsets, generic attributes and skills that are the foundations of entrepreneurship can be complemented by imparting more specific knowledge about business according to the level and type of education.
The European Commission has long supported and helped further the cause of entrepreneurship education. Within the education and training agenda, the strategic framework for European cooperation, Education and Training 2020 has, as its fourth long-term strategic objective, to enhance creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training. The Commission is continuing its support through the Europe 2020 strategy where the need to embed creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship into education systems is highlighted in three flagship programmes: Youth on the Move, An Agenda for New Skills and Jobs, and Innovation Union.
The scope of this research is primary (ISCED level 1) and general secondary education (ISCED levels 2 and 3). The curricula for vocational, technical or commercial schools at secondary level are not included. Only the public education sector is taken into account, except in the case of Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands, where the grant-aided private sector is also covered because it accounts for the majority of school enrolments. Furthermore, in Ireland the vast majority of schools are defined legally as privately owned but, in fact, are fully state funded and do not require payment of fees by parents. In the Netherlands, equal funding and treatment of private and public education is enshrined in the constitution. The school reference year is 2011/12.
The Eurydice Unit of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) has coordinated the collection of data and the preparation and drafting of this comparative overview. The questionnaire was developed in close cooperation with the European Commission, Directorate- General for Education and Culture.
This comparative overview analyses the main information received from the Eurydice Network, representing 31 European countries. It is divided into four chapters covering:
- National strategies and action plans to encourage the integration of entrepreneurship education.
- How entrepreneurship education is currently being addressed in national educational steering documents in terms of general approaches and subject curricula.
- Specific learning outcomes defined for entrepreneurship education and any practical guidelines to support teachers.
- Initiatives to promote entrepreneurship education and the current situation on educational reforms impacting on the subject.
Examples of current practice from individual countries are given in the overview. However, in addition, a complete set of national descriptions is available in the second part of this report; these include references and links to all the relevant policy documents.