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Promoting entrepreneurial mindsets: time for action!


Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise (JA-YE) Europe, Europe’s largest provider of enterprise education programmes, considers that promoting entrepreneurial mindsets is one of the most important success factors for growth and jobs of the EU economy. We therefore support and welcome the communication presented by the Vice-President Gunter Verheugen and Commissioner Jan Figel on February 13: “Promoting Entrepreneurship in Schools”.

Europe needs a vibrant and adaptable private sector and one which encourages invention and is comfortable with risk-taking. Enterprise education helps young people develop a keener eye for opportunity and an aptitude for “thinking outside the box”. And being entrepreneurial applies as much to people who are employed as to those who are independent. Europe’s demographic shifts will place a great deal of pressure on the younger generation over the next decades and it is imperative that they be more self-sufficient. The success of Europe’s political expansion and economic integration depends on it. We highly commend the collaboration that is presently taking place between DG Enterprise and DG Education in this field as it has already done much to raise awareness of the issues.

The Commission’s plan to boost entrepreneurial mindsets through this Action Plan, which adopts a strategic framework, identifying key actions to be accomplished, is a positive exercise, stepping in the right direction. More favourable framework conditions are a must to foster Europe’s entrepreneurial spirit. One single measure cannot change mindsets and release our entrepreneurial potential but rather a series of measures such as integrating entrepreneurship education into school curricula, increasing the financial support for such initiatives and improving the image entrepreneurship has today in Europe.

“Enterprise and entrepreneurship need to be brought out of the closet and put back on our list of educational priorities.”, said Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA-YE Europe.

Much about becoming entrepreneurial can be taught. Exposing young people to enterprise at a young age is crucial. Allowing them to learn by doing it themselves, in an environment where they have lots of support and encouragement is what we think makes all the difference. Independent evaluations that we have conducted in several countries show that our graduates are far more likely to start up businesses of their own later in life, and many more than the national average will be successful. For instance, a survey made in Norway shows that around 27% of respondents between the age of 25 and 34 that took part in one of these programmes have established their own company. The average start up rate in Norway is 7 %. In UK 100,000 young persons set up their own business through the Young Enterprise London programme since its establishment in 2002.

“I think the decision to start my current company was definitely made easier from my experience with Young Enterprise. I thought - If we made a profit when I was 18 years old - I don’t see why I can’t do the same now.”, said Paul Lawton Alumni from UK and today an entrepreneur.

“I wanted to be lawyer but didn’t know what type. JA-YE showed me I should become a business lawyer. JA-YE offers you the chance to lead people and take responsibility.”, explains Marie Darlet from France.

“Our goal is to reach at least 4,5 million students by 2010, and now we are at 1,7 million. But programme impact and our ability to expand also depend on the close working relationships we establish with education authorities (access to schools) and the private sector (access to business volunteers). This three-way partnership has been enormously successful and highly cost-effective. However, to achieve our goals, we have to deepen and strengthen these partnerships, focus on those areas in Europe where the growth potential and the need is greatest.”, concluded Caroline Jenner.

“The achievements of JA-YE Europe and its member organisations are therefore impressive. With 1.7 million young people in entrepreneurship programmes this year across 41 European countries and more than 65,885 teachers and 60,368 business volunteers actively engaged, their efforts are truly a testament to what can be done if businesses, government, and communities work together. I welcome and commend the considerable contribution they and their partners are making on the ground and at the European level, not only to raise public awareness of entrepreneurship education, but also to foster an entire generation of new entrepreneurs with all the benefits that entails to us as a society.”, said Günter Verheugen, Vice President of the European Commission.

“The entrepreneurship education programmes promoted by Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise give practical help to schools and teachers to enable them to better respond to pupils’ learning needs. Through these programmes, pupils learn to turn their ideas into action and theories into practice. They enable participants to better understand how companies work, what makes them successful, and contribute to their increased motivation and awareness of the importance of lifelong learning.”, Ján Figel’, Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism.

Diana Filip | alfa
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