Entrepreneurship: empowering young people with a sense of initiative and creativity

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Entrepreneurship may be mistakenly related only to economic activities and business creation, however, it is much more than that. ‘Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship’ is one of the eight key competences for lifelong learning defined by the European Union. It is refers to an individual's ability to identify and seize opportunities, turn ideas into action, and to plan and manage processes to achieve objectives. In this tutorial you can find out more about this key competence and how teachers can foster it in their students.

What is entrepreneurship competence? 

It is important to emphasise and promote a broad understanding of entrepreneurship competence that reflects any contexts – in education and training, employment and the individual’s life in general.

EntreComp: The Entrepreneurship Competence Framework (2016, in English) defines entrepreneurship as ‘a transversal competence, which applies to all spheres of life: from nurturing personal development, to actively participating in society, to (re)entering the job market as an employee or as a self-employed person, and also to starting up ventures (of cultural, social or commercial value).’ 

EntreComp was developed during 18 months of research involving experts from all over Europe, to take into account the many different perspectives and developments in different countries. It is made up of three competence areas and 15 competences as illustrated in the figure below. It is intended as guidance to help different people – educators, policy makers, employers, and others – develop and assess the competence of those they work with and are responsible for.


Another illuminating publication is Entrepreneurship in Education: What, Why, When, How (by OECD and European Commission, 2015). This publication takes a theoretical approach and analyses ongoing debates on entrepreneurial education.

The following 5-minute video is about the European Commission ET2020 Thematic Working Group on Entrepreneurship in Education. It tells you how the group was formed and the areas they focused on. It shows you how policy makers from European ministries come together to learn from each other and improve key aspects of education and training.

How is entrepreneurship taught in Europe?

The Eurydice report Entrepreneurship Education at School in Europe (2016) compares regions and their approaches. It also observes that more than half of European countries allocate both national and EU funding to entrepreneurship education. However, the study showed generally low levels of participation in practical entrepreneurial learning at school and a need for further development of young people’s problem-solving skills. The report contains country comparisons of learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and attitudes) as well as national information sheets.

Have you heard of the ‘Teacher-Entrepreneur Speed Dates’ taking place in Finland? 

To be inspired by this and other national initiatives from across Europe, have a look at the good-practice examples selected by the E360 Project (OECD and European Commission, 2015) which is featured here on the School Education Gateway. The project focused on three specific areas: ideas and strategies to create an entrepreneurial school; what is entrepreneurship education at its best; and how to promote the outward-looking approach in school. Check out the website for the good-practice examples and background studies. 

How do I embed entrepreneurial education in my classroom?

You could start by exploring the Virtual Guide to Entrepreneurial Learning. Available in nine languages, this practical tool is created for teachers in primary, secondary and vocational schools. It offers more than 125 assets to inspire teachers and provide them with practical examples, best practices from different countries, self-assessment tools and policy documents. The guide is a result of the Entrepreneurial School project, co-funded by the European Commission and co-ordinated by JA Europe

eTwinning also provides exciting resources: the publication ‘Developing pupil competences through eTwinning’ showcases successful projects linked to all eight key competences, including the ‘sense of initiative and entrepreneurship.’ Moreover, the teaching material called Young Entrepreneurs was originally developed as an eTwinning project but can also be run independently. This resource comes in 23 languages and it helps to develop entrepreneurial skills through practice by creating junior companies in a European context.

Last but not least, Teacher 2020: Entrepreneurial Education, Initiatives and Guidelines is a handbook that offers best examples of Erasmus+ projects on entrepreneurial education, and outlines their success factors, to help other teachers to replicate successful projects too.

Sharing your experiences and learning more

If you work in a school and are a member of the eTwinning community, you can join the group Entrepreneurship in Education. As a taster, see the group’s webinar below about building resilience at school.

If you are a project leader, researcher, policy maker or anyone interested in the broader development of entrepreneurship education, you will be able to join the School Education Gateway collaborative space on Entrepreneurship Education. This space will host discussions and webinars on different topics and will be a meeting point for different stakeholders.

If you are interested in online professional development courses, take a look at the course Boosting a Sense of Initiative and Entrepreneurship in Your Students, funded by the European Commission. The course started in February 2017, but the material will also remain available afterwards. The following video gives you a preview of the kinds of ideas and approaches that are covered:

Share your views and ideas!

Start a discussion and post a comment below (login required). You can also suggest material here.

  • How do your students perceive entrepreneurship?
  • How are creativity and taking initiative promoted in your school? 
  • How do you see the role of parents and the local community? How are they involved?