Since 2008 Europe has been suffering from the effects of the economic crisis. Most effected by the crisis, are SMEs that have not yet been able to return to their pre-crisis level (Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan). At the same time, “Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Europe’s economy” (Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission). They represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. Thus, in order to ensure economic prosperity, innovation, job creation and social integration s, it is essential to ensure SMEs growth and to enhance entrepreneurship mindset and competences.
Entrepreneurial mindset is a set of attitudes, skills and behaviors. The entrepreneurial mindset is not a personal predisposition but can be developed through learning and experience and can be achieved with the education system. Entrepreneurship competencies combine creativity, a sense of initiative, problem-solving, the ability to marshal resources, and financial and technological knowledge. These competencies enable entrepreneurs to adapt to change (OECD, 2018).
Nowadays, schools, vocational and higher education institutions are trying to enhance entrepreneurial competencies and create an entrepreneurial mindset in students, by enriching their study programmes and by applying apprenticeship models based on problem-based learning and gamification elements.
Complementary to the above, apprenticeships have been implemented for hundreds of years and have always been an important part of education systems across the globe. Apprenticeships are a way to supply learners with employability skills and job specific qualifications.
In this context, the Erasmus+ Project App.Mod.E (An Apprenticeship Model for developing Entrepreneurial skills) proposes an integrated scheme for the development of entrepreneurial mindset, skills and competences by students that are doing their apprenticeship.
The project will provide three intellectual outputs to trainers, companies and students, in order to help them in the development of entrepreneurial skills:
An apprenticeship model for acquiring and developing entrepreneurial mind-set and competences.
A trainers’ guide to support the design, implementation, management, evaluation and validation of the apprenticeship model in VET organisations and companies.
A “VET-Company partnerships for apprenticeships” Guide, which will focus on the creation of partnerships, between VET providers and companies for the successful implementation of the apprenticeship model for entrepreneurship.
The App.Mod.E model provides methodological support and practical tools to trainers, in order to include entrepreneurship education in the learning design of apprenticeships. One of its objectives is to use an innovative methodology of problem-based learning, using gamification elements. For this reason, the model is based on problem-solving and active training. The apprentice will face companies’ real problems and challenges and will have to find a solution to respond. During the process, the apprentice will need to develop a strategy, find resources needed, make decisions, solve problems, assure the collaboration of supervisors and colleagues and deliver results of certain quality. The whole process will use gamification elements like constrains in time, achievement badges and incentives. The gamification elements will provide engagement and motivation to the apprentice in order to complete his/her mission successfully.
Problem-based learning (PBL) develops crucial awareness and connections with real life. It allows apprentices to create and run a business, be tested by challenges and setbacks, take leaps and reap rewards, all in a dynamic, rapidly changing environment that is completely risk-free. Furthermore, the use of PBL in an apprenticeship model allows apprenticeships to enact problems usually faced in the workplace, whilst enhancing transferable skills such as teamwork, problem solving, risk assumption, public speaking, confidence, self-motivation, and creativity. On the other hand, PBL offers benefits also for the employer, who is able to assume more qualified personnel with a basic experience of the job.
Gamification is an educational approach to motivate students to learn by using game elements in learning environments (Kapp, 2012). Gamification elements in apprenticeships can be used to create motivation and engagement. For this reason the problem-based learning methodology should be enhanced with gamification elements, which will provide the right motivation and engagement that will lead the apprentices to complete the mission successfully.
The App.Mod.E project is expected to generate valuable results for VET schools, companies and students. VET schools will acquire a methodology and practical tools to develop, organize, support and evaluate apprenticeship periods in companies, focusing on the acquisition of entrepreneurial skills.
If you would like to learn more about the project or its activities, visit our website http://www.appmode.eu/index.html (link is external);