Entrepreneurship Education - Can one Teach to Become a Founder?

With the results of the "Thematic Working Group on Entrepreneurship Education", the European Commission has set the goal of promoting and supporting entrepreneurship education across Europe. But how to reach that goal?

Original language: DE

​by Pirmin Vlaho

The European Commission defines Entrepreneurship Education as "about learners developing the skills and mind-set to be able to turn creative ideas into entrepreneurial action". The focus is on two key competences: 1) the development of entrepreneurial attitudes, skills and knowledge in order to be able to successfully set up companies and 2) to incorporate innovation and creativity into existing organisations and to help develop them.


Why does the European Commission support and promote start-up training? 

Innovations and start-ups are important economic factors and a cause of society's prosperity. And the importance of innovations and start-ups is growing. Digitisation is changing the value-added chains. That offers many opportunities. Innovative organizations are changing their value chains and opening up new business areas. Founders develop new business models and disrupt sometimes entire industries. In contrast to the past, it (often) no longer requires high capital requirements. After all, many new combinations of value-added chains can be realized digitally and are therefore inexpensive to implement. It used to be an orchid, but nowadays it is on everyone's lips. Television formats such as the German "Die Höhle der Löwen" are quite popular. More and more young people see a (new) career path for themselves and want to become founders. However, opportunities rarely come without risks. This applies to both founders and organisations. Where established organisations miss out on new business opportunities, they are threatened to be left behind. And founders are threatened with failure of their business model.


Can one even learn to become a founder?

The question is perfectly legitimate. How to establish a company successfully has been a mystery for a long time. Thus, the opinion was expressed that the founders were born. It also seemed impossible to offer a training course for founders. This view has meanwhile changed fundamentally. Today, the reasoning is considered to be learnable and is described by the term Entrepreneurship Education. Entrepreneurship Education is about developing a sense of (attractive) opportunities, formulating a vision and working on its implementation. It is therefore a matter of training many new competences such as innovative ability, willingness to implement, initiative and others. But how can these competences be trained with a classical education that, above all, conveys mainly knowledge?  


The European Commission calls for new approaches to entrepreneurship training

The main focus of a business incubator training is on gaining personal experience. And this can only happen in (real) life and work contexts. Teaching knowledge is becoming less important. A lack of knowledge is partly self-taught by the learner. This turns our understanding of education upside down. The education arises in the context of own efforts with intensive exchange relations to other founders, startups, enterprises, educational institutions and many others. So education is partly informal and non-institutional. This presupposes an ecosystem with appropriate stakeholders. The founder's training thus leaves behind approaches to classical didactics and methodology. 


EPALE makes its contribution

In this context, EPALE can also contribute to the training of founders. This is because it can network, promote exchange relationships and draw attention to events. It can bring stakeholders together, strengthen the ecosystem, provide information and inspire education professionals to a new understanding of education. For example, EPALE offers a variety of interesting event announcements, blog articles and other resources - such as Erasmus+, the Digital North or WeHubs. 


Entrepreneurship education is a challenge

In order to be able to train the necessary founder competences, many participants and a new understanding of education are needed. Classic educational institutions alone cannot do this. A whole ecosystem is needed. Innovative educational concepts are needed that replace knowledge transfer with an enabling framework, and that include informal and non-institutional learning.


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