The EU co-funded project IncuVET (2014-2016) envisages to support and promote an innovative role for VET schools as local/regional hubs for entrepreneurship, beyond the mere provision of start-up advice. VET schools are in a position to stir a multi-stakeholder process where local authorities, employers, start-ups, teachers and students come together to shape the way entrepreneurship education is embedded in the curriculum and learn from each other in a collaborative way, with valuable impact on the schools, the students, the market and the community as a whole.
CHANGING MINDS The project provides an open space where all interested stakeholders (teachers, employers, entrepreneurs, students, local authorities, community organisations) will engage in a process of discovery and discussion in order to stretch the concept of the role that entrepreneurship should play in society and education.
UNLEASHING NEW IDEAS The project is run under the principle “No Idea Left Behind”. Creativity and sustainability deserve special attention. In order to provide the right conditions for new ideas to come to the surface connections with the real world, interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial cooperation stand out as crucial elements in the equation.
ADDING VALUE The project aims to propose and secure the conditions for some of these new ideas to abandon “Thoughtland” and morph into viable businesses, innovative products, disruptive services, new teaching methods, inclusive social schemes, cultural events, adding value and making a contribution to the economic, social, cultural and environmental development of the local markets and communities VET schools are incorporated into.
The incuVET project aims to strike the right balance and articulation between these three layers of intervention by tapping into and learning from existing initiatives. The project is based on the exchange of ideas, experiences and practices among the partners of the consortium through four workshops in the form of study visits to best practices in four European countries (Finland, Spain, Greece, Belgium) but also through the collaboration with new partners around Europe, contributing their knowledge and practices to the project knowledge base and information hub on entrepreneurship education in Europe and the role for VET schools in this respect.
IncuVET welcomes guest contributions from and is open to synergies and cooperation with actors involved in VET on Entrepreneurship Education:
VET systems across Europe can boast a wide diversity. However, many VET schools fail to acknowledge and come up to their essential role in securing a smooth transition for young people into the world of work. Whereas integration of start-up pre-incubation services feels like second nature to Higher Education Institutions, oddly enough like-minded initiatives in VET schools are scarce despite the fact that it should make perfect sense, as most have often managed to develop close-knit networks with local employers.
This cooperation with local businesses in the shape of apprenticeship schemes and other actions constitute consolidated practices that would help explain the growing popularity of the vocational tracks.
There is a raft of sound practices which is slowly but firmly fighting against old-fashioned perceptions and prejudices towards VET.
With a highly relevant curriculum and close connections with the marketplace, VET schools are in an unbeatable position to put forward an ambitious entrepreneurship education agenda. Ad-hoc subjects have been designed and embedded in national VET curricula together with widely adopted mini-company schemes and business ideas contests. Quite interestingly, this already positive picture has been enriched in the last years with the irruption of a growing concern about the pedagogical aspects of entrepreneurship.
In spite of its low prevalence, the integration of start-up incubation units in VET schools could start boasting about some promising results in terms of business creation and survival rates of companies started by VET students. Just this fact, makes it worth having a proper look at the start-up pre-incubation services put in place in order to identify essential elements to scale them up.
VET schools could further support the entrepreneurial aspirations of some of their students by transforming themselves into regional/local hubs for entrepreneurship. Far from being a utopian vision, such exercise may just require a slight reframing of the school mission and actions already in place.
The overall vision underpinning the incuVET project contemplates, “an improved understanding and better rounded provision of Entrepreneurial Education and Start-up Support in VET Schools”. In this line, the incuVET consortium is set to identify basic elements of an ideal VET school-based entrepreneurial support system, drawing on existing initiatives and best practices among the consortium and beyond, and to provide an information hub to collect material, stir the debate and discussion, in an effort to embed some of the learning taking place during the project lifetime into the VET school structures.
The main tool of the incuVET project will be the organization of four (4) thematic workshops/study visits at the premises of different organizations involved in the project, which constitute best practices of entrepreneurship education in Europe. Read more about the workshops here
During the incuVET project implementation period, four (4) thematic workshops/study visits will take place at the premises of different organizations involved in the project.
Each workshop will contribute to the co-production of a vision of success shared by all partners. This entails taking stock of the experience brought to the partnership by different organizations involved in entrepreneurship education and the role of VET schools in this respect in view of setting up a valuable baseline. After each workshop knowledge will be shared with colleagues and all members of our community and target groups comprising VET school and other key local stakeholders at the local level.
InnoOmnia, an innovation development unit within Omnia with entrepreneurship at its heart represents a good benchmark initiative to set the tone of the project. Partners got familiar with this interesting experience of whole-school approach to entrepreneurship in VET.
The second workshop will place its focus on pre-incubation and start-up support in VET Schools. Partners will share and discuss the pros and cons of different services and tools. Spanish project leader Valnalon and partner Tknika as workshop hosts will walk partners through different initiatives to integrate start-up incubator in a local VET School.
The third workshop broadens the scope in order to accommodate a wider perspective of the role teachers and students should play in the development of entrepreneurship key competence paying attention to specific initiatives geared towards the development of entrepreneurial dispositions such as workshops for personal and professional development (STARS Success Yourself), accredited by the International Coach Federation.
The fourth workshop will tap into the role networks play in shaping a sound entrepreneurial ecosystem in VET. Quality of entrepreneurial support in VET is greatly influenced by the interplay of three essential stakeholder groups: Policymakers, VET Schools and Employers. The apprenticeship system stands out as a key arena where such collaboration takes place. The network of SYNTRA Flanders and SYNTRA training centers has developed methodologies and experiences on the development of the entrepreneurial spirit and the entrepreneurial competences of young people within the apprenticeship system.
VEGGIE-FOOD is a project made by students of Gamarra Culinary School. This project is developed with the intention of promoting a good diet based on the consumption of natural products. This project is made up of students from higher-level training Culinary Management, where most have resumed studies as a career option because of the current labor crisis. Each of them comes from different industrial branches as well as other places but all have the same passion and love for the culinary world.
VEGGIE-FOOD was born as an idea but it can turn into a real business project. Each of the members who make VEGGIE-FOOD offers and brings diverse knowledge, and this makes it rewarding. More here in English and Spanish
Jieha! is Vlajo’s Ethical Trading Initiative for Young People Programme, providing the opportunity to plan, develop and deliver a business enterprise. All profits from the enterprise are donated to a charity, chosen by the young people involved. Until recently the Programme has been delivered for ten years to pupils aged 14 to 16 years old in schools over a ten to eighteen week timeframe. Delivery of the Jieha! in fulltime education is supported by Coaches who work for Vlajo (Flemish Young Enterprises). The Coaches help pupils and their teachers to develop and deliver the start-up businesses through providing a start-up loan, and ongoing support. The profits from the young people’s enterprises are donated to a charity of their choice. Through this programme young people have the opportunity to move from theory to practice. They gain knowledge about how to start and run a small business, have fun doing so, and experience the feelings of success and achievement. More here
Pärnumaa Vocational Education Centre (PVEC) business administration second year students organized a Charity Cake Auction to celebrate Business week in Estonia. The general aim of the project was to inform people about Pärnumaa Animals Shelter’s situation, their aims and their activities. Students wanted to help them financially, so that they could improve their operations. The direct objective was to get management and project implementation experience. The event took place on 08.10.2015. Students decided to give all the earnings to the Pärnumaa Animals Shelter as they had cooperated with them before. Objectives of the project can be considered to have been met in 100%. Students got really good practice and experience in event planning, organizing. More here
One way of ensuring that learning is reality-based is to have the local business community directly engaged in the learning process with their expertise and hands-on know-how. In “Reto TMP/ TMP Challenge” local employers (SMEs, NGOs, sole traders) provide real tasks for VET students to work on and learn from. They visit the school and also communicate with the students online. They are a source of practical advice and experience as well as encouragement and motivation throughout the challenge. They are important role models, too. Reto TMP is the brainchild of Valnalon, a brokering organisation bringing together schools and employers.
Real challenges require real solutions for real users. The classroom is our basecamp but what’s really important is action taking place outside the classroom to identify problems, generate ideas, build prototypes and putting them to test with real users while documenting every single step of the process in the blog specifically set up for the challenge: Reto TMP Eva Rogado. More here in English and Spanish.
New innovations are necessary to ensure and enforce entrepreneurship skill development and working-life-centricity in vocational education. We present an example from Finland. InnoOmnia is a multi-actor knowledge community within a VET organisation. It brings together students, entrepreneurs, and teachers in a non-formal setting where traditional roles are revamped. A number of traditional silos have been broken in order to build a co-learning innovation environment. The transition is not painless, however. Using a large dataset of text and visual content, we identify tensions relating to the transition. The tensions fall under the themes of community borders, operational culture, structures and leadership. InnoOmnia is not perceived as one community. Rather, every participant seems to have his or her own representation of it. Based on these differences, conflicts arise. Our research indicates that an innovative, entrepreneurial community inevitably contains destructive and conflicting forces as well. A key force counterbalancing the tensions is enthusiasm. More here
The global crisis has increased unemployment in the EU to unprecedented levels, yet many employers claim they have difficulties finding skilled workers to fill their vacancies. This report shows that most vacancy bottlenecks arise because of factors other than general skill deficits, including job offers of poor quality. Genuine skill shortages affect a small group of dynamic, internationally oriented European enterprises in specific economic sectors (health and social care, ICT, advanced manufacturing). To mitigate skill bottlenecks, European companies must commit to offering high-quality apprenticeship places and good-quality jobs, which can be supported as part of a process of social dialogue between VET providers and labour market actors. Ultimately, the business and product market strategies of a greater share of European firms will have to become reliant on higher skill needs. The role of VET in developing creativity and entrepreneurial capacity in the European workforce will be crucial. More here
Recent research has highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship skills to small business performance. Although there are quite extensive literatures dealing with management and leadership skills more generally, relatively little is known about these particular skill-sets. This project sought to source the key components of ‘entrepreneurship skills’, to identify how they can and cannot be developed, and to draw out possible lessons for UK policy. The review finds that entrepreneurship skills are associated with competence in the process of opportunity identification (and/or creation), the ability to capitalise on identified opportunities and a range of skills associated with developing and implementing business plans to enable such opportunities to be realised. This definition is distinct from, but closely related to, accepted definitions of management and leadership skills. There is evidence that some entrepreneurship skills can be taught and/or learned. However entrepreneurs tend to learn less effectively from the conventional didactic approaches typical of much of the educational sector. The most effective approaches to developing entrepreneurship skills involve experiential learning based around task-oriented development focused on real business problems. More here
Young people have never left education more highly qualified and with more years of schooling to their names and yet face record levels of unemployment, too often losing out to older workers in the competition for employment. This new report features interviews with eight leading commentators on the relationship between education and employment. The interviews highlight ways in which the labour market has become more hostile to young people over the last generation. Three key themes emerge: the labour market is more complex and opaque than in the last increasing the significance of careers education especially where it is rich in direct workplace contacts; school to work transitions have become more fractured than in the past demanding new recruitment skills and resiliency from young people; and, employers offering jobs with greatest prospects have changed requirements, expecting young people to be personally effective in applying knowledge in unfamiliar situations demanding that schools place greater emphasis on applied learning and enterprise education.[...]. More here
On September 2014, 345 participants from the worlds of business, policy, education and training met in Brussels to take part in the second Business Forum on Vocational Training. The overarching theme for the Forum was “Business & VET - Partners for Growth and Competitiveness”. The Forum included three targeted workshop sessions and two panel debates. The titles of the workshops, which followed the topics of the Forum, were: Workshop 1 - Meeting skills needs in key sectors // Workshop 2 - Working together on entrepreneurial skills // Workshop 3 - Developing apprenticeships in companies. More here
The survey analysis summarises the findings of 91 interviews conducted among large European enterprises, vocational education and training (VET) providers, social partners and sector organisations on challenges and practices related to business-VET collaboration focusing on three main topics: meeting skill needs in sectors of key strategic importance to the EU; business-VET cooperation on entrepreneurial skills; and developing high-quality apprenticeships. The survey was part of the preparation for the second European Business Forum on Vocational Training to hold in Brussels on 23-24 September 2014 under the heading “Business & VET - Partners for Growth and Competitiveness”. The Forum is a high-level event that takes place every two years with participation of all relevant stakeholders from different levels (EU, national, regional, etc.), such as policy makers, companies, SMEs, social partners, VET providers, teachers and trainers, entrepreneurs, guidance practitioners, human resources experts as well as youth and student organisations. More here
This report aims to provide a critical review of research and public policy literature concerned with the characteristics of engagement between employers and schools, focusing on school provision for the age group11-18: it does not examine provision in Further Education Colleges or Apprenticeships. More here