Help us switch on Europe

Written by Caroline Jenner on 29 June 2017 in Opinion Plus
Opinion Plus

Europe needs to do more to ‘switch on’ to entrepreneurship education, writes Caroline Jenner.

By 2020 JA Europe would like to see entrepreneurship education in 25 per cent of Europe's primary and secondary schools | Photo credit: Fotolia


What do Joonas Ahola, Karoli Hindriks, and Alexander Gram Jensen have in common? All three started businesses while at school.

Today they’re highly successful – and not just for themselves: they employ people, directly and indirectly, in the new economy that is driving Europe forward. And they’re alumni of programmes organised by JA Europe, the region’s largest network providing Entrepreneurship Education (EE).

Joonas is CEO of MeetingPackage.com, a global online events management company. Karoli runs Jobbatical providing working ‘sabbaticals’ in a borderless world where skills are valued over passports. Alexander’s company SubReader designed and sells an app converting movie sub-titles into sound to allow dyslexics to enjoy a trip to the cinema.

These successes are not rare. But Europe needs to do more, much more. That’s why we’re calling for Europe to ‘switch on’ to entrepreneurship education (www.switchoneurope.org).


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Let schools and colleges introduce their students to innovation and encourage young people to set up their own companies. Let’s allow them to develop the skills that equip them for employment and recognise that learning-by-doing complements the education traditionally provided by schools and colleges. And let’s recommend that the curriculum includes time for classes in innovation as well as the usual subjects.

Schools are keen to play their part. Armando Persico is an Italian chartered accountant, teacher and in his words, an ‘edupreneur’. His network brings together more than 1000 teachers across 15 European countries to exchange information and promote best practice. Schools see the benefit of challenging their students to be innovative, imaginative, and ambitious. The last thing they want is NEET alumni (Not In Employment, Education Or Training).

Change is happening but we need to accelerate. We need to reduce the barriers to EE at local level,strengthen national strategies for EE, improve teacher training, and increase interactions between experts and stakeholders. That’s where the European Entrepreneurship Education NETwork or EE-HUB for short comes in.

"Schools see the benefit of challenging their students to be innovative, imaginative, and ambitious"

EE-HUB was co-created in 2015 by a consortium of four pan-European organisations (JA Europe, EUROCHAMBRES, SEECEL, and EUproVET) with, so far, Cisco, Citi Foundation, EY, Intel, Microsoft, and Visa as private sector partners. And we have a much appreciated and growing group of ‘ambassadors’ from the European Parliament: 24 MEPs from 17 member states. Our work is supported by the European Commission’s Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), COSME Programme.

In two short years EE-HUB has become the focal point for entrepreneurship education in Europe. Our appeal to decision makers is to help us help Europe’s next generation by continuing EE-HUB beyond 2018. In Europe we need more young people like Joonas, Karoli and Alexander. We need more edupreneurs like Armando.

By 2020 we would like to have increased the penetration rate of entrepreneurship education to at least 25 per cent in primary and secondary schools. That’s between double and triple today’s levels.

We’ll review progress at the European Entrepreneurship Education Summit in Brussels 11-12 July and chart the way ahead (registrations www.ee-hub.eu).

Join us there and support entrepreneurship in Europe. Why not reach out to your government’s decision-makers to help us #SwitchOnEurope

About the author

Caroline Jenner is CEO of JA Europe

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