3.8 Development of entrepreneurship competence
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There is no central level strategy for the development of entrepreneurship competence and of an entrepreneurial mind-set among young people in Cyprus. However, a National Policy Statement for the Enhancement of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Cyprus has been formulated, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry, and endorsed by the Council of Ministers on the14th December 2015. This policy document also focuses specifically on social cohesion and on the employment of people experiencing difficulties in accessing the labour market. The Policy Statement provides for targeted actions to be promoted under five Priority Axes:
- Cultivating the entrepreneurial culture,
- Improving the business environment,
- Enhancing the entrepreneurial innovation,
- Facilitating access to finance,
- Improving access to markets.
Τhis policy statement establishes a comprehensive policy framework and a targeted action plan for the integrated development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country. The main purpose is the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will contribute to the country’s economic growth, by providing the proper conditions for the successful development of business initiatives, ensuring the creation of added value for the whole economy.Τhe Policy Statement is the result of an extensive consultation with all the key stakeholders of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Cyprus.
In addition, special reference has to be made on the National Digital Strategy (2020-2025). The Strategy is grounded in a clear vision for change that is based on the following statement: “Cyprus to become a fit-for-the-future society and knowledge-based economy enabled by digital and emerging technologies that will drive sustainable economic growth, social prosperity and international competitiveness”. On a lower level, one of the main initiatives encompassed by the Strategy is the design of reskilling and upskilling interventions aimed at the private sector workforce but also aimed at unemployed persons, so as to increase their competitive edge in the labour market.
Similarly ,the Cyprus Research & Innovation Strategy Framework (2019-2023) has set new standards for young researchers and innovators. Some of the Strategy main aims are focused on 1) encouraging and equipping the young generation with the necessary competences and skills to become researchers and innovators of the next generation, 2) developing societal values, perception and culture on creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, and 3) cultivating entrepreneurial culture between families and communities.
Lastly, the first pillar of the National Youth Strategy is “Employment and Entrepreneurship”. National Youth Strategy is a product of cross-sectoral cooperation, based on the active and direct involvement of Ministries, government agencies dealing with young people, youth organizations and, above all, young people themselves. With the existence of the National Strategy, coordinated actions can now be taken at national level, which will have greater impact on the lives of young people. Especially for the chapter of Employment and Entrepreneurship, the two main goals are the development, support and promotion of entrepreneurship of young people, as well as enhancing the employability of young people and their integration into the labor market, while safeguarding their labor rights. More information for the Strategy can be found in section 1.3.
Based on the Eurydice Entrepreneurship Education study published in February 2016, Entrepreneurship education is not explicitly recognised in steering documents and implementation guidelines. However, since 2010, new curricula for primary and secondary education have been developed and implemented focusing on key competences, including creativity and innovation. In these, as part of the educational innovation that started back in 2004, there is an emphasis on developing competences related to entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity. More specifically, the 1st Annual Progress Report published in January 2017 by the Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry mentions that the new curricula of the Cyprus Ministry of Education aim at cultivating the following skills, attitudes and competences which are useful in a modern competitive society:
- Critical thinking;
- Theoretical thinking and the ability to translate theory into practice;
- Analytical skills and abilities;
- The ability to collaborate and exchange information;
- The ability to solve problems and, at the same time, to find alternatives;
- Excellent and prudent use of information and communication technologies;
- Consciousness and interpersonal communication skills.
Equally important is the progress made in the acquisition of experiential learning skills through the participation of students of all ages in competitions and/or entrepreneurship programs. For example:
- The University of Cyprus in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth conducts an entrepreneurship competition for students in the second and third year of upper secondary education. The competition took place annually between 2003-2016 and conducted again between June-December 2020.
- The NGO “Junior achievement Cyprus” organized the 1st Student Entrepreneurship Competition JA Enterprise Challenge 2020. The competition was part of the program Junior Achievement Europe, which gives the opportunity to students, aged 18-30 to develop their own business idea and helps them to use their skills in various areas and activities of a business. The students form groups and in parallel with the duration of the spring semester of studies they work on the development of a business idea, having the support of teachers and mentors. The final phase of the JA Enterprise Challenge 2020 took place on 1st of June 2020.
- The program "JA More than Money" was also launched in primary education in cooperation with the non-profit organization "Junior Achievement Cyprus" and the Association of Cyprus Banks. The program aims to familiarize children with concepts related to management of money, such as income, expenses, savings. Students in this context develop skills and understand concepts through experiential learning.
- In secondary schools, it is implemented on a voluntary basis the “JA Company Programme” which provides an entrepreneurial learning experience for young people aged 15 to 18. The programme seeks to nurture a new generation of entrepreneurial, innovative and civic-minded talents for Cyprus. It is the largest youth entrepreneurship programme on the island. Participants learn how to take a business idea from concept to reality and have hands-on experience of running a real business, from team formation, capital raising, business plan development, product development, marketing and sales to liquidating the company.
- Also, as mentioned in the Inclusive Entrepreneurship Policies: Country Assessment Notes, Cyprus, 2020, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth, with the support of the Pedagogical Institute initiated a series of entrepreneurial training programmes and competitions targeting secondary education teachers and students. While still at the beginning of their implementation, these programmes appear to have a high impact amongst students and educators: there has been an increased interest in running intraschool entrepreneurial competitions, participating in business idea/plan programmes and competitions, submitting bids on the themes of entrepreneurship and innovation, etc. These actions help strengthen the entrepreneurial culture within the education system in Cyprus, which is expected to have a role in building an entrepreneurship culture more broadly.
Universities have also strengthened their curriculums from an entrepreneurial perspective, offering certificates and minor degrees in entrepreneurship, according to the “Inclusive Entrepreneurship Policies: Country Assessment Notes, Cyprus, 2020”.
In addition, C4E Centre for Entrepreneurship (C4E) of the University of Cyprus, the biggest public university in the country, aims to offer the training, expertise, mentorship, support and connections required for undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students, researchers and young scientists to become successful entrepreneurs. C4E aspires to serve the common good by transforming new knowledge into novel products, processes and services, implemented by new or existing business, private or public organisations, governmental or non-governmental institutions. C4E organises successful events with the aim of bringing together multidisciplinary knowledge from researchers, practitioners, industry experts and successful entrepreneurs seeking for potential research, economic and technological synergies.
Youth Makerspace Larnaka is a venue of innovation, built upon the example of similar successful venues that operate in various cities around the world, following the international standards of Makerspaces that are developed by academic institutions and communities globally. It offers young people the opportunity to have access to high-end technological equipment that will enable them to develop their business ideas and put them in practice.
Makerspace venues contribute to the democratization of design, construction, engineering and education. Through their distinct learning philosophy, they empower young people on multiple levels: technology, handcrafts, creativity, construction, etc. In Makerspaces, young people have the chance to share and implement their skills and knowledge, boosting their vast potential of creativity.
In 2019, Youth Board of Cyprus created the mobile unit of Makerspace. The mobile unit aims to reach young people who live in rural areas, away from urban centres, and who therefore do not have access to programs and technologies such as Youth Makerspace. It is specially designed for this purpose and houses high tech technological equipment.
Currently, there are not any policies regulating the recognition and validation of entrepreneurial learning in non-formal and informal learning environments.
According to the 2021 Annual Report of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth, the Pedagogical Institute of Cyprus (C.P.I) implements programmes for entrepreneurship in education (“Επιχειρηματικότητα στην Εκπαίδευση”) in accordance with the National Policy Statement for the Enhancement of the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in Cyprus (2015) and the European Union's Policy on the new strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training. Moreover, the development of entrepreneurial skills among educators are essential according to the National Lifelong Learning Strategy 2021-2027.
In 2018 - 2019, four hundred and thirty-four (434) teachers, four hundred and fifty-three (453) pupils, ten (10) University students and four (4) academics had the opportunity to participate in different training and empowering activities/projects. The C.P.I. provided a combination of training through workshops / school-based visits / co-teaching and highlighted the role of entrepreneurship in education as a key – competence for lifelong learning in a cross - curriculum manner promoting team / problem-based learning.