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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.8 Development of entrepreneurship competence

Last update: 28 November 2023
On this page
  1. Policy Framework
  2. Formal learning
  3. Non-formal and informal learning
  4. Educators support in entrepreneurship education

Policy Framework

Implementation of new laws for education from 2008 and the national curriculum is still going on. Impressions of the effectiveness of the governmental process implemented are divided. No specific official implementation plan for entrepreneurship education is in place. The implementation of the new curriculum (2011) has been a challenge for administrators and teachers as they are meant to implement a new way of thinking about and organizing education. Not only is there a difference in the content of the curriculum but also there is a fundamental change intended in the way evaluation is accomplished in all subjects and areas of learning.

The national curricula in Iceland from 2011 on three school levels in Iceland, pre-school, compulsory (6-16) and upper secondary (16-19/20) are based on six issues (concerns/ pillars): literacy, sustainability, equality, creativity, health and welfare, and democracy and human rights. The curricula are also framed around learning outcomes as knowledge, skills and competence. This thinking opens up for a cross curricular area such as entrepreneurship education. The most obvious connection to EE is to the creativity fundament but other fundaments can easily be seen as being integral in EE. For example, sustainability education emphasizes action competence, which is also a major emphasis in EE.

The schools now have to use a structured learning outcomes based matrixes and deliver a grade in letters instead of the conventional number based on the knowledge and skills only. In the national curriculum the competencies or learning outcomes defined are divided into two categories; competencies in action (working) and competencies in subject.

Competency criteria of learning outcomes for general education are meant to be developed for:

·         communication and mediation

·         creative and critical thought

·         independence and cooperation

·         use of media and information

·         responsibility and evaluation of own education


Formal learning

IEE on pre-school level

On pre-school level, among skills to be emphasized and can be seen as encouraging entrepreneurial skills are: Creativity, expression, independence and initiative. Many pre-schools in Iceland work with creativity and encouraging children’s´ agency although very few identify their work as entrepreneurial. However some examples of using innovation education as an approach in pre-school have been documented.


IEE on compulsory school level

In the compulsory (6-16 years old) school curriculum EE elements can be identified in different school subjects such as arts, design and crafts, information technology and natural sciences. The clearest occurrence of EE competences can be found in the Science curriculum of the National Curriculum for Compulsory Schools in the category Innovation and the use of knowledge. In that category there is a clear progression from start of schooling to 16 years of age. Innovation and the use of knowledge has entrepreneurial skills incorporated into the curriculum. Although EE is not commonly provided in Icelandic compulsory schools many examples of considerable work with EE have been documented.


The National Innovation Contest for Compulsory Schools (i. Nýsköpunarkeppni grunnskólanna) is run for primary school students and is an encouragement for schools to work with innovation education. The contest is supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture.


EE on upper secondary level

The focus on six fundamental issues in the upper-secondary curriculum gives a general fundament for cross curricular subjects or projects such as EE. Concepts such as autonomy and initiative receive more attention than in former national curricula. The word “initiative” (i. frumkvæði) can be found on seventeen pages in the curriculum guide for secondary education indicating an emphasis in the spirit of EE without linking it specifically to EE. EE as a specific subject in the upper-secondary curriculum is located within the curricula for business lines.  However the schools have now more independence since 2011 to develop their own lines as long as they fulfill requirements of the general official curriculum. The tendency has been that only a small proportion of the student population in upper-secondary schools in Iceland takes EE courses, mostly on business lines. Some exceptions can be found where the whole population of the school takes an obligatory cross-curricular EE course including a considerable project they develop.



Non-formal and informal learning

FORD – Our future is now

A free organization called Friends of Rural Develoment has for a few years run a project for young people now called Our Future is Now! This is a programme where pupils in secondary schools compose and present plans for the future of their home community with a view to encourage them to stay or return to rural areas after their academic studies. The approaches and emphasis in the project are in the entrepreneurial spirit, encouraging creativity and action. It is operated in collaboration with local schools in rural areas. It is largely the work of one enthusiastic person Fríða Ásbjörnsdóttir, with different financial support from firms and ministries, but builds largely on Fríða´s volunteer work.


Junior Achievement Iceland

Junior Achievement Iceland has supported schools and teachers to work with EE and offers teaching materials and training for teachers. Next year 2017, 17 (of 34) upper-secondary schools in Iceland are expected to use the JAI materials to work with students on running a business and taking part in a national and international contest for the best product. Usually the students taking part in these courses are a small proportion of the whole school population.


INNOENT Education

INNOENT an independent educational establishment was founded recently to respond to the need for training and teaching and learning materials in innovation and entrepreneurial education. The activities include teacher courses, teaching materials and running of courses outside school hours for children and young people of compulsory school age (6-16 years in Iceland) often in collaboration with Fab-Lab.


Iceland Innovation Centre

The Iceland Innovation Centre (IIC) runs Fab-Lab centers in six different locations around Iceland. The centers offer services to individuals, firms and schools. Schools on compulsory and upper secondary levels near the centers collaborate with their staff and use the Fab-Lab facilities.

The IIC has recently (in 2016) taken over running and overseeing the innovation contest for compulsory schools and has taken a role in the board of Junior Achievement Iceland which had been struggling for a few years.

The IIC offers different courses for groups and individuals to encourage and support innovation and entrepreneurship. Among courses they offer are courses specifically for women.

The IIC also runs or collaborates on running 10 Incubator Centers around Iceland (five in Reykjavík).


Gulleggið - The Golden Egg business plan competition

Gulleggid or The Golden Egg is a business plan competition in Iceland to encourage entrepreneurs to get their business ideas noticed. The Golden Egg offers a platform to make business- and execution plans for business idea and develop to a real start-up. Participants in The Golden Egg are offered courses, advice and assistance from experts throughout the process. The Golden Egg is Iceland's biggest business plan competition. Since 2008 over 2.000 business ideas have been handed in, resulting in over a hundred viable businesses.


Educators support in entrepreneurship education

In Iceland education and training in EE for teacher students and practicing teachers is in 2016 and has been unclear, random or non existent in the main teacher education institutions in Iceland. Teacher education in the School of Education University of Iceland (SoI UI) and at the University of Akureyri do not have a policy for EE and the offers they have for this kind of training in general teacher education and for continuing professional development is random and unfocused. In the SoI UI courses or training in EE is haphazard, sometimes as an issue presented within different courses. Iceland Academy of the Arts offers teacher education in the arts and their courses have a strong emphasis on creativity and action competence.

The Icelandic Association of Teachers in Innovation and Entrepreneurial Education (i. now called FLINK) have off and on offered courses for teachers on compulsory and upper secondary level in EE. Junior Achievement Iceland also offers courses for teachers in Iceland but they have not been regular and not very visible. INNOENT is now a provider of courses for teachers on different school levels.

A survey conducted on behalf of the ICC, Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Industry and Innovation sent to administrators in upper-secondary schools in 2013 showed that most administrators felt that education for teachers in EE was needed. They wanted such educational offers to be on one hand a part of the fundamental education of teachers in general and on the other hand that it was offered for schools on or near their locations and taking into consideration their different contexts and conditions.