Entrepreneurship education is being increasingly promoted in most European countries, according to a new commission report.
It says that seven countries (Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Wales, plus the Flemish part of Belgium) have launched specific strategies to promote entrepreneurship education.
Others (Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey) include it as part of their national lifelong learning, youth or growth strategies, it says.
Half of European countries are engaged in a process of educational reforms which include the strengthening of entrepreneurship education.
A total of 31 European countries and five regions were surveyed for the report, entitled “Entrepreneurship education at school in Europe”.
Reaction came from Androulla Vassiliou, EU commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, who said, “Entrepreneurship education is a driver for future growth and will help us to inspire the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
“If Europe wants to stay competitive, it must invest in its people, in their skills, in their ability to adapt and in their ability to innovate.
“This means that we need to encourage a real change of mind-set in Europe towards entrepreneurial attitudes and this starts by instilling a spirit of entrepreneurship from early education onwards.”
The report states that entrepreneurship education is explicitly recognised in the primary education curricula of two-thirds of the countries surveyed.
While entrepreneurship is not taught as a separate subject in primary schools, half of the countries have defined learning outcomes which relate to entrepreneurial attitudes and skills such as sense of initiative, risk-taking and creativity.
In secondary education, half of the countries integrate entrepreneurship into compulsory subjects such as economics and social sciences.
Two countries (Lithuania and Romania) teach entrepreneurship as a compulsory separate subject. Practical entrepreneurial skills are specified by four countries (Lithuania, Romania, Liechtenstein and Norway).
The report says that a dozen countries support initiatives related to entrepreneurship education such as enhancing closer cooperation between education and business, and setting up small-scale firms run by students.
However, specific teacher training in this area is available only in the Flemish community of Belgium, Bulgaria and the Netherlands.
Only one third of European countries provide central guidelines and teaching materials for entrepreneurship education.
The EU promotes entrepreneurship as a ‘key factor’ for competitiveness and has highlighted the importance of promoting a European entrepreneurial culture.
The need to improve the entrepreneurial and innovative capabilities of citizens is also underlined in three of the flagship initiatives in the Europe 2020.
As part of this, the commission set up a working group on entrepreneurship education in November 2011. The aim is to support efforts by member states to implement entrepreneurship education.