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The Lithuanian government supports entrepreneurship on the belief that it increases economic growth, productivity and competitiveness, and stimulates creativity and innovation. The new National Action Plan on Entrepreneurship Promotion (2014-2020) was developed by the Ministry of Economy in line with the EU Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan. This action plan is the most comprehensive policy document focusing on the needs of SMEs in Lithuania. Youth are highlighted in the National Action Plan under two objectives. The first objective of the Action Plan is to develop a coherent entrepreneurship education system, covering all levels of the education system as well as training outside of the education system. Youth are also highlighted under the third objective, which is to promote and support entrepreneurship for selected target groups (youth and women). Planned actions under this objective include promoting entrepreneurship through Enterprise Lithuania (a non-profit organisation owned by the Ministry of Economy), supporting a national business plan competition, increasing the availability of business counselling, coaching and mentoring. This Action Plan is provides a clear indication that entrepreneurship is an important policy instrument for supporting economic and social objectives (OECD Entrepreneurship, 2015). The significance for youth is underlined as the much of the plan is centred on youth. This Action Plan contains two supporting documents. The first identifies actions that will be undertaken to achieve the objectives and indicates a timeline, responsibility for implementation, funding source and key indicators. The second document outlines evaluation criteria to be measured. This approach is comprehensive.
Youth entrepreneurship responsibility is shared across four national ministries: Ministry of Social Security and Labour, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Agriculture (only in relation to youth entrepreneurship measures in support of young farmers). Ministry of Social Security and Labour with the subordinate institutions, regions, social partners, non-governmental organisations and other institutions concerned performs its mission to balance the labour market, enhance flexibility and security thereof, and improve qualification of employees and their abilities to adapt to the market changes. The Family and Communities Department of the Ministry has the Children and Youth Divisions with the following functions relevant to youth policy: co-ordinate the implementation of youth policy, perform national as well as international obligations in the field of youth policy; implement the measures attributed to the division’s competence relevant to the policy, implemented by the European Union, the European Council, and the United Nations, in the field of children’s rights protection and youth; co-ordinate the implementation of the state (handed over to regions) children and youth rights protection function.
Ministry of Economy is responsible for economic development and industrial policy, which clearly have a direct impact in supporting youth entrepreneurs. However, these policy efforts are typically of a general nature rather that targeted efforts for youth (OECD, 2015). Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for policies and programmes related to entrepreneurship education, both at the school-level and in vocational training and higher education. This includes development of curricula and teacher training. Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for supporting the development of the agricultural sector. This includes supporting young famers and entrepreneurship activities related to agriculture.
In addition, several other key organisations interact with the four ministries to support youth entrepreneurship.
The Department of Youth Affairs under the Ministry of Social Security and Labour implements the state youth policies and programmes, monitors progress, conducts research related to youth and coordinates state and regional institutions involved in youth policy.
Council of Youth Affairs (Jaunimo reikalų taryba) is a collegial advisory institution, functioning under the Department of Youth Affairs. It includes 12 members: 6 representatives of the state institutions and 6 representatives of youth organisations, who are delegated by the Lithuanian Youth Council (LiJOT). The Council’s central task is to make suggestions to the Department of Youth Affairs on the implementation of youth policy.
LiJOT (Lietuvos jaunimo organizacijų taryba) is the biggest non-governmental, non-profit umbrella structure for Lithuanian national youth organisations. Currently LiJOT has 64 members (non-governmental youth organisations), and represents more than 200 000 young people in Lithuania. The National Youth Affairs Co-ordinator Association (Nacionalinė jaunimo reikalų koordinatorių asociacija) is a nongovernmental organisation that brings together the co-ordinators of youth affairs of the Lithuanian regions, which aspire to frame and implement youth policy in regions. Agency of International Youth Co-operation (Jaunimo tarptautinio bendradarbiavimo agentūra): The Agency of International Youth Co-operation is a public non-profit institution established in February 1999 by the Department of Youth Affairs and LiJOT. The main aim of the agency is to ensure the development of international youth co-operation and successful participation of Lithuanian youth in European Union programmes for young people.
Junior Achievement Lithuania (JAL) is a non-profit organisation of which the mission is to train youth in developing a free-market spirit, understanding of business and economics, leadership, entrepreneurship and initiative skills. Apart from building an entrepreneurial culture, the organisation helps to consolidate trust in entrepreneurs within society. It is part of Junior Achievement Worldwide (JAW), although it is not financially or structurally dependent from it. Therefore, it pursues an international practice with modern technology in which theory is complemented with practical activities. JAL is conscious about the importance of context for entrepreneurship and, therefore, has a licence from JAW to modify educating material according to Lithuania’s reality. Participation in their programmes is free for students. JAL has more than 150 business consultants that supplement teachers training, have edited more than 200 000 textbooks and reach more than 20 000 students each year (more than 200 000 from 1993 to 2014) in schools within different towns. JAL programmes are taught in 40% of the secondary schools (EACEA, 2012). JAL organises workshops for teachers of all subjects in economics and entrepreneurship aspects (3 000). JAL has a clear division of their programmes in: financial literacy (economics, investment competition, and computer simulation), career development (shadowing an employee, leadership) and entrepreneurship (company and start-up programme, summer camps, business competitions for students of grades 9-12.). The programmes on entrepreneurship aim to promote students’ capabilities such as: creative thinking, teamwork, solving of real problems and accountability to achieve their goals. They have evaluated these programmes observing that JAL graduates are better prepared for work, get easier a promotion and more often create their own business.
Stakeholder consultations are legally required for amendments or drafting new policy. However, the law does not specify that evidence should be collected. Policy-makers can decide whether research findings should be included in policy proposals and how this is done. The institutions that formally participate in the policy-making process usually include dedicated research agencies, evaluation/testing agencies, research and statistical departments, youth organisations, national statistics offices, think tanks and consultants. Likewise, representatives of NGOs, businesses and trade unions, and other interested parties can take part in the public policy-making process by providing comments in the public hearings and in parliamentary committees, to which these actors have free access.