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Promoting entrepreneurship in schools and universities

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Promoting entrepreneurship in schools and universities

The European Commission wishes to focus on learning about entrepreneurship * from primary school through to university. It is therefore presenting recommendations based on best practice observed in Europe, so that education can have a more active role in creating a more entrepreneurial culture in Europe.


Communication from the Commission of 13 February 2006 - Implementing the Community Lisbon Programme: Fostering entrepreneurial mindsets through education and learning [COM(2006) 33 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


The ability of the European Union (EU) to successfully meet the challenges of competitiveness and growth depends on dynamic entrepreneurship *.

A balance in the number of enterprises has proved to be a crucial factor in the competitiveness and growth of an economy. Business start-ups and transfers, the existence of entrepreneurs willing to embark on innovative ventures and the growth of businesses help to achieve this balance. Research suggests that there is a positive correlation between entrepreneurship and economic growth.

Entrepreneurship: a key competence to be developed from an early age

As attitudes and cultural references take shape at an early age, education can play a major part in successfully addressing the entrepreneurial challenge.

Education should therefore develop awareness of entrepreneurship from an early age. Introducing young people to entrepreneurship develops their initiative and helps them to be more creative and self-confident in whatever they undertake and to act in a socially responsible way.

For this reason the European Commission is devoting special attention to entrepreneurship training from primary school through to university, with a view to encouraging Europe's young people to become the entrepreneurs of the future.

However, the benefits of entrepreneurship education are not limited to more start-ups. Entrepreneurship is a skill that is also useful in both personal and social aspects of everyday life.


As coherent initiatives in entrepreneurship training are all too rare, the Commission is proposing recommendations based on best practice observed in Europe, with a view to helping Member States develop more systematic strategies to promote entrepreneurship training.

  • A coherent framework: national and regional authorities should establish cooperation between different departments in order to develop a strategy with clear objectives and covering all stages of education. School curricula should also be revised to explicitly include entrepreneurship as an objective of education.
  • Support for schools: schools should be given practical support and incentives to incorporate entrepreneurship in their curricula, through a range of different instruments (distribution of teaching materials, funding of pilot projects, dissemination of best practice, promotion of partnerships with businesses, support for dedicated organisations conducting entrepreneurship programmes with schools, etc.).
  • Fostering entrepreneurship in higher education: entrepreneurship should be incorporated in various subjects, particularly within scientific and technical studies, in order to provide students with specific training on how to start and run a business.
  • Support for teachers: it is essential that teachers be given initial and in-service training as well as practical experience. Awareness should also be raised among heads of schools to ensure that teachers are allowed the time and resources to plan, run and evaluate activities.
  • Participation by external actors and businesses: educational establishments and the local community, especially businesses, should cooperate on the subject of entrepreneurship training, and firms should regard this as a long-term investment and as an aspect of their corporate social responsibility.
  • Practical experience: one of the most effective ways to promote entrepreneurial mindsets and skills is through learning by doing (pupils or students setting up and running mini-companies). Almost 20% of participants in mini-company activities in secondary school go on to create their own company after their studies.


The Education & Training 2010 Work Programme included entrepreneurship as one of eight key competences necessary for lifelong learning in a modern knowledge-based society.

Key terms used in the act

  • Entrepreneurship: an individual's ability to turn ideas into action, to be innovative, take the initiative, take risks, plan and manage projects with a view to achieving objectives.


Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning - Official Journal L 394 of 30.12.2006.

Decision No 1720/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2006 establishing an action programme in the field of lifelong learning - Official Journal L 327 of 24.11.2006.

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Action Plan: The European agenda for Entrepreneurship [COM(2004) 70 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication of 10 November 2005 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Implementing the Community Lisbon programme - Modern SME policy for growth and employment [COM(2005) 551 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

See also

For further information, please consult the web pages on Enterprise and Education, Training, Youth.

Last updated: 26.09.2006