Non-formal training programs on entrepreneurship in Europe

From 23rd to 25th October ENIA RDI Ltd, emcra GmbH and the EU-Fundraising Association came together to a trilateral partner meeting in Cyprus. Among other topics, the question of “non-formal training programs on entrepreneurship in Europe” was broached.


An Entrepreneurship Action Plan for Europe

Entrepreneurship has been put forward on the EU’s agenda through the “Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan”. It should serve as a “blueprint” for decisive action to support Europe’s entrepreneurial potential and culture. The strategy is built on three pillars, one of them being the promotion of entrepreneurial education and training.

The EU is already supporting entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship education thanks to two programmes:

  • COSME, wich supports the mobility of young entrepreneurs and exchanges among educators and trainers’ best practices in entrepreneurship education. Examples of actions include:
    • The European Network of Mentors for Women Entrepreneurs, which provides advice and support to women entrepreneurs in the start-up, running and growth of businesses during their early years
    • Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, which helps new entrepreneurs (not necessarily young in years, but in the age of their businesses) by offering an opportunity to learn from a more experienced host entrepreneur in another country.  The host benefits in return from a fresh perspective on his / her business.
  • Youth, one of the subdivisions of the new Erasmus+ education program, lays a specific emphasis on youth employability and encouraging entrepreneurship in young people in Europe

Why promoting non-formal learning and entrepreneurship?

At a time when youth unemployment hits records in Europe, the question has been raised during the partner meeting whether non-formal education can help to develop skills more adapted to the workplace, complementing the ones acquired in the formal education system. It has been notably argued that EU mobility programs or other European schemes could foster the development of essential skills, such as intercultural skills, sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation and risk-taking, lifelong learning, practice of foreign languages, flexibility, etc, which should better prepare individuals for the job markets.

Increase employability

There are various initiatives and innovative projects across Europe addressing the challenges of recognition /integration of trainings on entrepreneurship, empowerment of young people to set up enterprises, or self-(non-formal) learning tools inside enterprises to develop new skills. The partners of the Cyprus meeting have exchanged opinions about the following projects:

  • The Dutch Entrepreneurship Module Eligible for Certification, developed by the European Vocational Training Association and partnering the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, gives upper secondary vocational education institutes the option to add entrepreneurship to existing vocational training courses
  • The Italian project “Bellacoopia” is addressed to young students from upper secondary schools to create virtual cooperative enterprises to experience what running a business means
  • The Spanish FLORIDA Universitaria, training center affiliated to the University of Valencia, enhances the development of an entrepreneurial mindset among students in order to facilitate their employability according to today’s market needs. Innovative methodologies such as business simulation games are included in the learning.
  • The EU-funded project LIFE2: key competences in life skills, bringing together vocational education organizations from Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the UK has developed a “train the trainer pack”, aiming at helping teachers and trainers to assess and include life skills in vocational learning and encouraging entrepreneurship skills such as creativity and innovation to set up in business.

Entrepreneurship education is not a new concept, but its implementation is still lacking of coherence. The Cyprus meeting allowed the partners to reflect on new approaches leading to innovative project ideas, notably concrete tools and needs analysis for trainers in this field.


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