3.8 Development of entrepreneurship competence
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In 2017, the Entrepreneurship Education Guidelines were published by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The Guidelines updating process (earlier version was published in 2009) was part of the earlier Government Programme which aimed to strengthen competitiveness by improving conditions for business and entrepreneurship.
Finland’s definitions of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education follow the guidelines set by the European Parliament and the Commission. According to these, entrepreneurship is defined as an individual’s ability to translate ideas into action. Creativity, innovation, and risk-taking are significant themes of entrepreneurship. In addition, this definition refers to anyone’s ability to plan and direct action towards the achievement of objectives.
In Finland, entrepreneurship education is a part of higher education policy and it is also included in the curriculum of basic education (ISCED 1 – primary education, ISCED 2 – lower secondary education). According to Eurofond's report Youth entrepreneurship in Europe: Values, attitudes, policies the support to entrepreneurship education is the most extensive policy measure implemented at the national level in Finland for promoting entrepreneurship among young people. A Finnish student receives, on average, 12 years of entrepreneurship education programmes as part of the compulsory education system and from three to seven additional years linked to non-compulsory education.
The guidelines for entrepreneurship education provided by the Ministry of Education and Culture follow the definitions of the European Parliament and Commission Commission in that sense that entrepreneurship education also refers to wide-ranging work done within the educational administration and its goal is to enhance entrepreneurship and the necessary skills. The role of experimental learning, and the creation of a flexible and innovative operational culture are emphasised.
The new curriculum (ISCED1-2) came into effect in 2016 and the role of entrepreneurship plays has been strengthened throughout the curriculum. According to the curriculum, the school supports students’ entrepreneurship and working -life skills and develops needed competences. Entrepreneurial education is integrated within cross-curricular themes, such as “Personal Growth” and “Participatory Citizenship and Entrepreneurship”. Some of the new thematic components of the new upper secondary education curriculum (ISCED3) are those of active citizenship, entrepreneurship and working life. Also, several subjects emphasise entrepreneurship skills (e.g. citizenship education, mathematics and, economics). For more information, visit: the National Agency for Education - Finnish education system.
The Ministry of Education and Culture promotes the recognition and acknowledgement of non-formal and informal learning through legislation, guidance, and funding. Youth organisations and local youth work emphasise the principle of supporting young people’s active citizenship, in accordance with the principles of the Youth Act. One of the most active organisations promoting informal and non-formal learning of entrepreneurship competences is Finnish 4H Organisation, which arranges leisure activities for children and young people between the ages of 6 and 28. The aim of 4H is “to raise active, responsible and entrepreneurial young people”. Entrepreneurship is taught through the experimental learning model. Young people aged 13 and older are encouraged to start their own projects. Also, 4H teaches skills, which are considered as useful in working life, and offers many young people their first working experiences.
There are no national guidelines on how to measure the quality of non-formal and informal learning. From this viewpoint, it is not surprising that there are no national standards for the validation and recognition of competences acquired through informal and non-formal learning either. However, the competence-based learning has a long history in Finland and the starting point is that skills and competences acquired through informal and non-formal learning must be recognised as well as those gained in formal learning. For more information about the recognition of skills acquired through voluntary activities visit: Youth Wiki/Finland 2.9 Skills recognition and Youth Wiki/Finland 2.10 Current debates and reforms.
The National Agency for Education provides supporting materials for teachers. These materials cover also entrepreneurial education. Some teacher training institutions offer optional courses on entrepreneurship.
National YES Finland is a registered organisation which offers entrepreneurship education service for teachers. It provides training in entrepreneurial education and services for developing entrepreneurship in schools and establishing school -business networks. YES organises events, seminars, and training programmes, regionally and nationally, and participates in the development of teaching plans and strategies.
Junior Achievement Finland is a non-profit organisation, which offers several programmes for young people between the ages 7 and 25 to support entrepreneurship and working life skills. Also, several training programmes for teachers are available. (For more information about JA for students, see Youth Wiki/Finland 3.10 Promotion of entrepreneurship culture).