The first pan-European body dedicated to moving entrepreneurship education forward in Europe was officially launched on Thursday, May 6th by JA Europe following two roundtable discussions with several industry leaders and policymakers.

This new initiative, named the European Entrepreneurship Education NETwork, or EE-HUB for short, is helmed by JA Europe, Europe’s largest provider of entrepreneurship education. JA Europe has partnered with Eurochambres (the Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry), SEECEL (South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning), and EUproVET (vocational education specialists).

This new EE-HUB is supported by the European Commission (COSME Programme) and private sector partners CISCO, EY, INTEL, Microsoft and VISA. All in all, this new EE-HUB has 45 members in 43 different countries.

Bringing together existing European and national expertise, the EE-HUB seeks to help strengthen co-operation among countries and increase penetration of entrepreneurship education among young people. Moreover, the network emphasizes the necessity of fostering good policy and the implementation of effective strategies at the national and regional level.

During the launch event, hosted by MEP Ambassador Eva Paunova, stakeholders debated the issues surrounding entrepreneurship education in Europe today.

Opening the panel discussions, MEP Paunova stressed the need for a reform in educational policy when it comes to entrepreneurship. “We need to pursue entrepreneurial education at all levels, from primary to tertiary education,” adding that there is a need “to create an entrepreneurial friendly environment,” in order to help SME’s.

During the panel discussions, a number of panelists echoed this need for education reform. Steven de Meuleneire, VP of Strategic Workforce Planning & HR Global Operations at Alcatel-Lucent, stated that “schools have not adapted to the new way of working yet,” but that a general cultural change is also needed as entrepreneurship is still viewed in a rather negative way. “Give the term entrepreneur a life. It needs to be in the newspapers, in the media, in the institutions.”

The EE-HUB is a first step to a standardisation of entrepreneurship education across Europe. Entrepreneurship evolves differently in each country, and Jurgen Siebel, the head of International Business at Siemens was quick to point out that “you cannot just take one system from a country and apply it to another country,” with Meuleneire quickly adding that “the basic principles can work in any country.”

A number of conclusions were drawn from the panel discussions:

– There is a need for interaction between businesses and students, as this will demistify the working world. Touch points between education and business need to be increased.
– Our young people need permission to fail and encouragement to take risks.
– Digital skills and entrepreneurship skills are entirely complementary; you cannot separate them.

In his closing remarks, Daniel Calleja Crespo, Director General DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs called for the audience to spread the word, as “investing in entrepreneurship education is one of the highest return of investments Europe can make”.

Henri Malosse, President of the European Economic and Social Committee called for Europe to reignite its commitment to entrepreneurship and the first step has to be to rethink how we educate our teachers.

“The EE-HUB is a welcome progress in a very important field, a targeted action that can help us build the next generation of entrepreneurs, businessmen, inventors, problem-solvers, leaders. The generation that will move European economies and societies forward. Entrepreneurs and politicians are mutually interrelated. Entrepreneurs “make” and politicians “do”. Particularly, we need to do much in order to enable them to make; to ensure that a real entrepreneurial culture is cultivated in Europe,” said MEP Ambassador Eva Paunova.

Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA Europe said that “we are convinced that EE-HUB has the quality and reach that it needs to move the needle on entrepreneurship education in Europe. For us success will mean policy changes as well as measurable increases in uptake at schools and universities”.

For more coverage of the EE-HUB launch, check out our YouTube channel, keep an eye on New Europe and next week’s print edition for a full page spread.