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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.8 Development of entrepreneurship competence

Last update: 29 March 2024
On this page
  1. Policy Framework
  2. Formal learning
  3. Non-formal and informal learning
  4. Educators support in entrepreneurship education

Policy Framework

While Ireland has a national strategy for the development of entrepreneurship competence or an entrepreneurial mind-set, there is no such top-level strategy specifically for young people.

A National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship in Ireland was published in 2014. The Statement is aimed at the general population. Its objectives include “Ensure that greater numbers of people, particularly in underrepresented cohorts such as females, youths, migrants and older persons start and run their own business”. The Statement defines entrepreneurship as ‘an individual’s creative capacity to identify an opportunity and pursue it to produce new value or economic success.

The Statement

  • identifies Ireland’s current skills profile
  • provides a strategic vision and specific objectives for Ireland’s future skills requirements
  • sets out a road map for how the vision and objectives can be achieved.

The three main aims of the Statement are

  • Building the pipeline - Increase the numbers of entrepreneurs, who will actively engage in creating high quality business start-ups and jobs across the country
  • Building entrepreneurial capability - Develop entrepreneurial skills among the general population and nurture entrepreneurial thinking and talent
  • Building the right conditions - Ensure survival and growth of entrepreneurial start-ups.


National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019-2022 

The National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2025 was launched in 2019 and is the first Irish national policy on social enterprise. It focuses on three key objectives:

  1. Building Awareness of Social Enterprise
  2. Growing and Strengthening Social Enterprise
  3. Achieving Better Policy Alignment. 

The Policy sets out a series of 26 commitments on the part of Government across these three Objectives for the development of social enterprise.


Formal learning

There is no specific national strategy in entrepreneurship education in general education. However, there are several ongoing initiatives.

The National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship in Ireland (2014) promotes early and widespread student exposure to entrepreneurship and innovation.

The National Skills Strategy was published by the Department of Education and Skills in January 2016. The Strategy includes a commitment to develop an Entrepreneurship Education Policy Statement which will inform the development of entrepreneurship guidelines for schools.

The Department of Education supports enterprise in schools through developing a basic understanding of scientific principles and methods and of business. The Department encourages active and collaborative learning, and good arts education, all of which foster creativity, innovation, risk-taking and other key elements in entrepreneurial thinking and action.

At both general and vocational upper-secondary school, entrepreneurship is covered within the curriculum. Entrepreneurs and enterprise skills are covered within Business, an optional subject in the Leaving Certificate (established) state examination. The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme includes the compulsory module Enterprise Education. The module is designed to give students the opportunity to meet enterprising people and investigate business and community enterprises. Students are also encouraged to set up their own enterprise projects as vehicles of learning.

Local Enterprise Offices run Student Entrepreneurship Initiatives in secondary schools. These include:

  • The Student Enterprise Programme: Each year over 22,000 second level students discover what it’s like to run their own business by taking part in the Local Enterprise Offices Student Enterprise Programme.
  • Foróige Network for teaching entrepreneurship
  • The Young Social Innovators (YSI) programme: YSI promotes education for social innovation. It empowers and supports young people to realise their potential as social innovators, giving them the skills and confidence to tackle the social issues facing them, their communities and wider society.
  • Get up and go mini company project: In groups, Transition Year students think of a creative enterprise providing a product or service, market this good, and sell it to the target audience, aiming to make a profit.
  • BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition: Science fair for 12- to 19-year-olds. Established in 1965, it has grown to include circa 550 student projects.
  • BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp (In association with Nova UCD): An extension of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. A four-day innovation and skills camp for second-level students from across Ireland who demonstrate an ability to understand how and why a simple idea can be developed into a commercially viable enterprise. The students are selected from over 1,200 secondary school students who competed in that year’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.


Non-formal and informal learning

Foróige run the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) youth entrepreneurship education and development programme. Foróige NFTE operates both in-school and out-of-school programmes. The aim of the programme is to help young people in disadvantaged communities to develop core skills in business and enterprise.


Educators support in entrepreneurship education

The Student Enterprise Programme provides teacher resources to support secondary school students taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme. The resources include a teachers’ manual, student workbook, sample student business reports and videos including helpful tips from successful entrepreneurs. Free teacher resource packs are available from Local Enterprise Offices and through the student enterprise website.


The Entrepreneurial Schools Virtual Guide to Entrepreneurial Learning: is one of the largest entrepreneurship education initiatives in Europe, co-funded by the European Commission through the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP). It aims at supporting teacher’s professional development in applying entrepreneurial learning in several subjects and learning environments.

The Virtual Guide is a practical and useful tool for teachers in primary, secondary and vocational schools that want to mainstream entrepreneurial education in teaching methods and learning processes they set up in classroom every day.

The guide contains more than 100 tools and methods to support entrepreneurial teaching and learning, good practices, and framework documents from 85 different schools in 10 countries.

It also includes self-assessment and review tools for teachers and schools who want to assess how entrepreneurial their learning process are and to review their progress on a regular basis.


Exploring Enterprise: A resource to enhance the teaching & learning of enterprise in 2nd level schools is a resource developed by the County and City Enterprise Boards, in association with the Second Level Support Service. It is a DVD with eight case studies of entrepreneurship and an accompanying ‘Teacher Resource Book’. Exploring Enterprise is designed to enhance the teaching and learning of entrepreneurship in second level schools. The resource is aimed primarily at students participating in Enterprise Modules within Senior Cycle Programmes including Transition Year, Leaving Certificate Applied, the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme and students following Leaving Certificate Business.


The Skills Summary Guide for Youth Work Organisations was created in 2019 by the National youth Council of Ireland, Accenture and, and funded by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. The guide aims are to equip the significant adults in the lives of young people (particularly youth works) to build their understanding of Skills Summary and thereby provide a basis for introducing this tool to young people who might benefit from it. The Skills Summary is based around 12 transferable skills, one of which is entrepreneurship.