On 9 and 10 March 2021, the COSME-funded project "Peer-learning activities in Entrepreneurship Education and in Women's Entrepreneurship" organised its final workshops.
During the two days, 130 participants from 40 countries discussed how to move forward, ensure early entrepreneurial education, build a European network of practitioners, collect data for evidence-based actions, and present role-models.
In the women’s entrepreneurship workshop, participants discussed specific steps to foster this field in the immediate future, with a bottom-up approach.
One of the main take outs was a plan for the development of an EU-wide campaign, using different communication channels, and driven by local leaders. Campaigners should involve these local players who shall help collect and validate information on role models, media channels, and supporters. The campaign should highlight the benefits of women’s entrepreneurship, obstacles female entrepreneurs face, and real-life stories about how they overcame them. Support from the European Commission would be key to increase its visibility.
Participants agreed on a gender-sensitive approach to entrepreneurial learning but said no to gender segregation. Separating learning groups by gender may only be appropriate at particular ages, such as in primary school.
The finance breakout group elaborated on actions for setting up a women’s entrepreneurship funding platform and establishing educational programmes for financial management and investment readiness. The platform should include an investment fund dedicated to female entrepreneurs covering different financial schemes such as loans and venture capital. It should also offer technical assistance and support from a network of advisors. To tackle female entrepreneurs’ skill gaps, entrepreneurial education, and financial literacy skills should become part of the curricula early at schools.
Counting on a strong European umbrella organisation for women’s entrepreneurship is essential. In this context, the participants considered an enhanced WEgate as a viable option, while highlighting a need to analyse why existing networks find it difficult to increase their impact. The next steps could be engaging key actors, discuss the bottom-up objectives of the WE ecosystem and working on connecting grassroots organisations to create a critical mass. The outcome could be a joint advocacy strategy to advance women’s entrepreneurship as a policy priority.
Finally, the participants discussed the need to collect and analyse data on women’s entrepreneurship. Such data is required to learn more about female entrepreneurs’ attitudes and behaviours, why investors tend to favour men, and the success criteria of governmental programmes to support women’s entrepreneurship. Such data would help design better training programmes, investment schemes, and support measures for women’s entrepreneurship.
During this workshop, participants took stock of the progress in entrepreneurship education in Europe and strategies to speed up further uptake.
To kick-off the day, the project hosted a panel debate with entrepreneurship researchers and educators. They agreed that entrepreneurship education is a young field that still needs to develop fundamental issues, such as:
- The definition of entrepreneurship education
- How it could be applied in different educational stages and subjects
- And how we can learn from long-established disciplines
New measurement systems are needed to assess students’ progress, understand the impact of entrepreneurship education on future professional development, and increase awareness of the benefits of teaching entrepreneurial thinking.
A second panel debate focussed on policies to enhance entrepreneurship education, emphasising the combination of entrepreneurship education with the digital and green transition. Among the key issues identified were awareness-raising on the broad range of transversal skills developed through entrepreneurship education and ensuring alignment with sustainability and ethical considerations.
Instead of targeting new policy frameworks, the experts prioritised further implementation of existing ones such as the EntreComp Framework and integrating existing policy approaches.
In three breakout groups, participants discussed success factors for implementing entrepreneurship education. Experts from France, Ukraine, and Spain presented inspiring case studies from their region. The breakout groups also gave input to suggested policy recommendations in six focus areas:
- Leadership & strategy
- Initial teacher training
- Continuous professional development of teachers
- Cooperation & networking
- Awareness & visibility
- Research & knowledge transfer
The participants called for more opportunities and initiatives of co-creation across regions and countries, an ecosystem-approach to stakeholders, communities of practice, and the need to develop more robust assessment tools for entrepreneurship education.
Teacher training was a recurrent theme throughout the workshop, highlighted both in the plenary and in the breakout sessions. Workshop participants called for compulsory entrepreneurship education modules to be included in all initial teacher training. They also suggested new ways to scale-up successful national examples of continuous professional development for teachers.
Participants’ work continues in an online community dedicated to the peer-learning workshops. The identified actions shall start a new chapter in entrepreneurship education implementation all over Europe.