On 8 September, the European Parliament adopted the Culture & Education Committee report ‘Promoting youth entrepreneurship through education and training’ calling for education systems to include aspects of entrepreneurship in the curricula at all levels and inviting the European Commission to support and coordinate this process, notably through the Erasmus+ Programme.
The European Commission itself has acknowledged entrepreneurship education as a key priority, and the Commissioner for Education, Tibor Navracsics, has indicated that the Commission will take action in this area.
We asked three questions to Michaela Šojdrová, Member of European Parliament, Vice Chairwoman of the Culture and Education committee, MEP Ambassador of the European Entrepreneurship Education Network (EE-HUB) and rapporteur of the report.
- Mrs Šojdrová, why did you decide to focus on entrepreneurship education? What drives your work in this field?
As you may know, youth unemployment remains one of the major challenges in Europe, as some countries still count 50% of unemployed young people. This is worrisome but not insurmountable. So far, the EU has often neglected the key importance of education, despite the numerous studies stressing the crucial role of education and entrepreneurship education in particular, as a tool to combat youth unemployment and stimulate innovation, growth and jobs in Europe.
What a better place than school to learn and acquire the necessary skills and knowledge? For the very first time, the European Parliament has called for the inclusion of entrepreneurship skills in the school curriculum. These skills can be taught and learned and they are useful for individuals, businesses and society as a whole.
My personal engagement lies in my conviction that entrepreneurial education empowers everyone, as it will help you make informed decisions, and become the master of your life. For that reason, I am a proud ambassador of the European Entrepreneurship Education Network (EE-HUB) lead by JA Europe. Additionally, I gladly hosted the first ever Entrepreneurial School Awards, a national and European recognition of the best schools championing entrepreneurship education, selected on the basis of diverse criteria, such as the inclusion of a vision and strategy in entrepreneurship education, specific recourse allocations, teachers’ training, or the engagement of the local community and business sector.
- The report received a warm welcome from your colleagues in Strasbourg. Does this high vote-count at the European Parliament mean that entrepreneurship education is an easy project to defend?
I have to admit that huge progresses have been made in recent months. People have started realising the necessity of concrete action in the field of entrepreneurship education if we want to reach the objectives of Europe 2020, the EU’s growth strategy for the coming decade, which notably aims to enhance creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training.
I am glad that the European Commission has acknowledged one of the key elements of the EPP Group’s priorities. Commissioner Navracsics appreciated our proposal and confirmed that the Commission is now ready to take concrete action in this area and cooperate with Commissioner Thyssen, in charge of employment. Young people need to acquire the initiative and sense for entrepreneurship. Classroom subjects such as finance, economics and the business environment should be part of every school curriculum and be accompanied by mentoring, career guidance, as well as practical experience.
At the European Parliament, my colleagues have been great supporters of the initiative and I am confident this report will give impetus for further action.
- What are the next steps? What do you expect will be the biggest challenges?
In order to ensure that teachers are able to foster the entrepreneurial mind-set of young people, by developing their sense of initiative, creativity, innovation and risk-taking, we should ensure the right level of resources and ambition are dedicated to education across Europe.
In addition to ensuring a fair budget for education issues, the European Commission should maintain entrepreneurship education and training as one of its priority and include them as objectives for a future Erasmus+ Programme in the next programming period. At national level, Member States are called upon to develop entrepreneurship education in their curricula.
I also invite all stakeholders to collaborate on the field. Joint efforts by policy-makers, the business sector and educational community are key to success.
To learn more about The Entrepreneurial School Awards, visit here.
Further photos may be found here.