Developing and promoting entrepreneurship education has been one of the key policy objectives for the EU and Member states for many years. According to European definition, entrepreneurship education aims to facilitate developing attitudes, knowledge and skills that enable an individual to turn creative ideas into action.1 Entrepreneurship occurs when an individual acts upon opportunities and ideas, and transforms them into value for others. The created value can be financial, cultural, or social.2 Instead of purely economic activities and business creation, entrepreneurship is related more widely to create value in all areas of life and society, with or without a commercial objective.1
Entrepreneurship encompasses a broad range of skills, such as creativity, innovation and risk-taking, as well as the ability to plan and direct action toward the achievement of goals. This supports individuals, not only in their every day lives at home, but also in education, at work, in leisure activities and in other societal activities.3 Entrepreneurship is a transversal key competence for all learners supporting personal development, active citizenship, social inclusion and employability. It is relevant across the lifelong learning process, in all disciplines of learning and to all forms of education and training (formal and informal) which contribute to an entrepreneurial spirit or behaviour. Entrepreneurship education is essential not only to shape the mind-sets of individuals but also to provide the attitudes, knowledge and skills that are central to developing an entrepreneurial culture. Although it is a relatively recent area of research, a solid body of evidence exists already, showing the benefits of entrepreneurship education for the individual as well as for society.1
Entrepreneurship education at school in Europe
In the EU Member states, there are different levels of engagement in entrepreneurship education: some countries have already been committed for more than a decade, while others are just beginning to address entrepreneurship education as part of their education policies. The development of specific entrepreneurship education strategies have been established for instance in Nordic countries and Western Balkan region, whereas many countries have linked entrepreneurship education explicitly to broader strategies related to education, lifelong learning or youth strategies. Entrepreneurship education is increasingly recognised as a cross-curricular objective in primary schools, but is most commonly taught in upper secondary level within optional subjects. Therefore, entrepreneurship education is less likely to reach all students in countries where it is more often found optional than in compulsory subject, and where it is not a cross-curricular theme.1
At the European level, there have been established many outstanding entrepreneurship education initiatives – such as The Entrepreneurial School (TES), KidVenture, DigiYouth, UKids and The Youth Start projects – to support teachers professional development in applying the entrepreneurial learning in several subjects and learning environments (primary, secondary, upper secondary and vocational schools), and to facilitate students in acquiring entrepreneurial skills. Over the past years, schools have increasingly begun to discover how to create the conditions and methods for facilitating students in their entrepreneurial learning process. However, how to learn for entrepreneurship in less formal learning environments, such as families, is still a very underdeveloped domain.
Parents as entrepreneurship educators
Besides entrepreneurship education provided by teachers at schools, entrepreneurial learning can happen almost everywhere. For example, entrepreneurial learning occurs in several situations and social interactions within families. Therefore, an entrepreneurship educator – a person who facilitates the learning process of entrepreneurial knowledge, skills and attitude in others – may be a parent who does not operate under the traditional concept of teaching. Along with formal education system, parents are passing on essential knowledge, skills and attitudes to their children through daily interactions and practices at home. As Shulman4 notes in her recent article in Forbes: “One of the best ways for children to learn about entrepreneurship is through hands-on activities where they are taking part in a live setting. Children learn best when they are involved – whether they are teaching something, telling a story, or are actively engaged in a project, they can have the chance to learn and remember these crucial lessons.”
Researchers have acknowledged the active role of parents as “entrepreneurship educators”.6 For this new role, parents have to be trained in the use of practical teaching methods and tools for facilitating their children in entrepreneurial learning process. However, it seems that so far there has not been available any holistic training program for parent in terms of entrepreneurship education. The ParENTrepreneurs project aims to address this shortage by developing a training program for parents to become entrepreneurship educators. The project will support all parents by developing methodological resources to help embed entrepreneurial learning into daily life, and provide opportunities to engage their children and other parents as well in targeted entrepreneurial learning.
1 European Comission/EACEA/Eurydice (2016). Entrepreneurship Education at School in Europe. Eurydice Report. Luxembourgh: Publications Office of the European Union. Available at: https://www.na.org.mk/tl_files/docs/eplus/eurydice/2016pub/195EN.pdf
2 Bacigalupo, M., Kampylis, P., Punie, Y., Van den Brande, G. (2016). EntreComp: The Entrepreneurship Competence Framework. Luxembourg: Publication Office of the European Union. Available at: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC101581/lfna27939enn.pdf
3 Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning (2006/962/EC). Official Journal of the European Union L394/10. Available at: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:394:0010:0018:en:PDF
4 Shulman, Robyn D. (2020). 5 Critical Reasons Parents Should Model Entrepreneurship Skills Daily. Forbes 19.1.2020. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/robynshulman/2020/01/19/5-critical-reasons-parents-should-model-entrepreneurship-skills-daily/#380f94082b2e
6 Kumar, S. Arun & Prabhu, J. Jose (2017). Understanding Parental Factors and Entrepreneurial Attitude – The Moderating Effect of Entrepreneurship. IJARIIE 3: 6, 1371–1374. Available at: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4d0f/0f4a820b9819acdad20ac4277818d8db2834.pdf
Written by Marianne Laurila, Vaasa University of Applied Sciences | Design Centre MUOVA