Entrepreneurship is becoming an increasingly popular and valid career choice in today’s world. The 2019 GEM Report on Entrepreneurship in Ireland found that almost one in five of the adult population aspire to be entrepreneurs compared with 9.8% in 2006. Part of the reason for this is the continued digitalisation of the SME sector, which has helped level the playing field for many entrepreneurs.
As a result, having capital and premises is no longer necessarily a prerequisite for setting up a business. Instead, drive, knowledge, ambition and great ideas are key.
It is critical that the potential of all young people is encouraged at an early stage. There are a range of programmes supported by Government Departments, agencies and business that develop essential entrepreneurial aptitudes among our young people, such as the Young Social Innovators (YSI) awards, which has a target to work with half of the secondary schools in the country on innovation-thinking, and Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI), bringing entrepreneurship education to over 60,000 students annually.
The European Commission’s 2015 'Entrepreneurship Education: A road to success' report examined 91 studies from 23 countries. The prevailing impression that emerged from the evidence collected is that entrepreneurship education works.
The report found that students participating in entrepreneurship education are more likely to start their own business and their companies tend to be more innovative and more successful than those led by persons without entrepreneurship education backgrounds.
It also found that entrepreneurship education alumni are at lower risk of being unemployed, and are more often in steady employment. Compared to their peers, they have better jobs and earn more money.
Being entrepreneurial is not just about starting and running a business. It’s about the willingness and ability of individuals to turn ideas into action.
- Ability to plan and manage projects
- Achieve objectives
- Awareness of context and
- Ability to identify, create & seize opportunities.
These are skills that can also be put to use by employees to provide innovative inputs within organisations (so called intrapreneurs). The skills can also be used to address wider societal issues, not just commercial applications (e.g. social entrepreneurship) and indeed in personal and family life.
Ireland's National Skills Strategy 2025 was published by the Department of Education and Skills in January 2016. It includes a commitment to develop an Entrepreneurship Education Policy Statement which will inform the development of entrepreneurship guidelines for schools.
The Department of Education and Skills already supports enterprise in schools through the development of a basic understanding of scientific principles and methods and of business.
It also encourages active and collaborative learning, the development of ICT skills in the revised primary curriculum and good arts education, all of which foster creativity, innovation, risk-taking and other key elements in entrepreneurial thinking and action.
Skills underpinning entrepreneurship are also central to the new Framework for Junior Cycle and there are many examples of good work being undertaken in many schools at transition year in mini-company formation and other projects designed to foster entrepreneurship.
All of the above skills, allied with the attainment of competence in a second modern language, form an important basis for lifelong learning and for creating a culture of enterprise.
Educators are free to complement the above with specific entrepreneurship education resources such as those shown below.
At Primary level, entrepreneurship education can be incorporated directly as part of discretionary curriculum time or indirectly in areas such as Drama, Art, Oral Language, Creative Writing, Project Group/ Activity or Art.
At Secondary Level, it can be incorporated into Business Subjects or Transition Year Projects.
Irish Initiatives for Schools
The Local Enterprise Office run Student Entrepreneurship Initiatives at all three levels.
Other initiatives include:
Free Online Entrepreneurship Education Resources
The Student Enterprise Programme provides teacher resources to support the 22,000 Plus secondary school students taking part in the Programme. The resources include a teachers’ manual, student workbook, sample student business reports and videos including helpful tips from successful entrepreneurs. Free teacher resource packs are available from Local Enterprise Offices and through the www.studententerprise.ie website.
The Entrepreneurial Schools Virtual Guide to Entrepreneurial Learning
is one of the largest entrepreneurship education initiatives in Europe, co-funded by the European Commission through the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP).
It aims at supporting teachers professional development in applying entrepreneurial learning in several subjects and learning environments (primary, secondary, upper secondary and vocational schools).
The Virtual Guide is a practical and useful tool for teachers in primary, secondary and vocational schools that want to mainstream entrepreneurial education in teaching methods and learning processes they set up in classroom every day.
The guide contains more than 100 tools and methods to support entrepreneurial teaching and learning, good practices and framework documents from 85 different schools in 10 countries.
It also includes self-assessment and review tools for teachers and schools who want to assess how entrepreneurial their learning process are and to review their progress on a regular basis.
The tools range from running an Autumn Market to Students identifying and invite an entrepreneur to be interviewed by them to running a Student Company and much more. The various tools can be searched here
Entrepreneurship360 is a collaborative initiative of the European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It aims to nurture entrepreneurship as a key competence in schools and technical and vocational institutions.
Entrepreneurship360 offers a freely available self-assessment instrument that will support institutions and individual teachers in advancing their strategies and practices to promote entrepreneurship, as well as to develop a platform for exchange amongst peers.
It also gives the opportunity to individuals and schools and VET providers to learn from each other’s practices, and share their own.