3.8 Development of entrepreneurship competence
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Lithuania is one of the first EU countries to develop entrepreneurship education strategies at the school level (OECD, 2015). The importance of entrepreneurship education was explicitly noted for the first time in Lithuanian national education strategy adopted in 2003. The National Strategy of Education 2003-2012 states as a principle to strengthen attention on all ISCED levels to entrepreneurship and finance management. The aim is to reach that every student of lower secondary school would achieve elements of economic literacy. This led to the development of two specific strategies: 1) “Economic Literacy and Entrepreneurship Education” (2004) and the “National Programme of Youth Entrepreneurship Education and Encouragement 2008-2012”, which both aim “to strengthen the focus on entrepreneurship and financial management at all school levels” (EACEA, 2012). The purpose of the Entrepreneurship Action Plan of Lithuania for 2014–2020 is to define actions the implementation of which would ensure consistent growth of the level of entrepreneurship in Lithuania through the development of consistent and continuous entrepreneurship education system, favourable environment for business start-up and development by improving accessibility of public services to business, the image of the entrepreneur in the society and promoting entrepreneurship of target groups and social entrepreneurship with special focus on regions. The objective of the Entrepreneurship Action Plan is to raise the level of entrepreneurship. In order to achieve this objective three tasks were set: 1) to establish a consistent and continuous system of entrepreneurship education; 2) to create favourable environment for the start-up and development of business; 3) to promote entrepreneurship by ensuring accessibility of public services to business, distinguishing entrepreneurship of target groups (youth, women) and start-ups as well as social and regional entrepreneurship and developing a positive public image of the entrepreneur.
At the primary education level in Lithuania, entrepreneurship is integrated within social sciences (i.e. “world discovery”) and also as part of the natural sciences; both of which are compulsory subjects (EACEA, 2012). This approach is rare because most countries take a cross-curricular approach that emphasises the transversal objectives of entrepreneurship (OECD, 2015). Nonetheless, the integration of entrepreneurship within core subject areas demonstrates a very high level of commitment to entrepreneurship teaching in Lithuania and ensures that a large number of young students are introduced to entrepreneurship (OECD, 2015).
At secondary level, “Economics and Entrepreneurship Education” (grades 9-10) is a compulsory subject in the Lithuanian curriculum. Entrepreneurship is also integrated into several compulsory subjects such as social sciences and maths, sciences, technology and ICT. In upper secondary education, entrepreneurship is integrated in compulsory subjects (social sciences and maths-sciencestechnology-ICT) and is also an optional subject. Most programmes in secondary schools co-operate with Junior Achievement and through this co-operation, students learn core business management skills 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 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.
There is a general consensus that the vocational training (VET) system needs improvement in Lithuanian (Lithuanian Monitor for Education, 2013), which has led to the drafting of the development of the Action Plan for the Development of Vocational Education and Training 2014-2016 which was approved in 2014. One of the main objectives of this plan is to strengthen the work-based learning (including apprenticeship type of VET organisation) because implementation of this type of VET organisation is relatively low (Franczak et al., 2011 quoted in OECD, 2015). This creates an opportunity to improve entrepreneurship training in VET because work-based learning (including apprenticeship type VET organisation) can be used to provide experience learning about business management and entrepreneurship through active learning. This active learning could also contribute to career guidance and play a significant role in helping VET students identify opportunities that they could pursue after completion of their studies (OECD, 2015).
In Lithuania, entrepreneurship is generally not included in higher education programmes outside of business schools. The National Programme for Higher Education 2013-2020 focuses on the importance of developing job-specific competences in educational institutions and on career guidance to help students make a conscious and informed choice of the study and career paths. Implicitly this would include entrepreneurship. At some universities economics and entrepreneurship are offered as optional study modules for students. However, there is little evidence that higher education institutions are systematically promoting and supporting entrepreneurship except for business schools and business study programmes (OECD, 2015).
Entrepreneurship and innovation training outside of formal education is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour. Junior Achievement is the most important organisation in providing entrepreneurship and innovation training outside of formal education in Lithuania. It adapts international practices to the Lithuanian context, stimulating innovations and entrepreneurship culture through initiatives such as company programmes where students manage their own firms for one year, assuming risks but with lower requirements than normal companies. It also offers simulations, summer camps and innovation camps. In addition, a number of business associations are active in supporting youth entrepreneurship through mentoring, business counselling, delivering seminars and hosting internships to help youth acquire entrepreneurship skills and develop industry contacts (e.g. Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists, Business Employers’ Confederation, Youth Business Club). INVEGA, a public loan guarantees institution established under the the Ministry of Economy, operates one of the most important innovation and entrepreneurship supports in Lithuania, the Entrepreneurship Promotion Fund, which provides micro-credit that includes a training offer to financing recipients. The Entrepreneurship Promotion Fund was established at the end of 2009 and continues to operate. The Fund was initiated by the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, the Ministry of Finance and INVEGA, which is an agency that is responsible for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in Lithuania and facilitating their access to financing. INVEGA is the managing authority of the EPF. The main objectives of the EPF are: to achieve the provision of small loans to start-up self-employed and SMEs at “better than-market” conditions; to increase access to start-up finance for disadvantaged target groups including: – unemployed people; – youth entrepreneurs under 29 years old; – older entrepreneurs over 50 years old; – people with a disability; to achieve a minimum of 30% of training places and 15% of loans to be allocated to people from the priority groups; to increase start-up self-employment and entrepreneurship in the Lithuanian economy; to increase the levels of entrepreneurship and self-employment in the target groups; to encourage the take-up of training and advice by start-up entrepreneurs and those seeking to enter self-employment; to increase the number of sustainable new SMEs and newly self-employed; to reduce unemployment and keep people active in the business and labour market; to contribute to the development of a viable entrepreneurial culture in Lithuania. EPF provides preferential access to youth, seniors, the unemployed and people with disabilities. Available supports include microcredit, loan guarantees, entrepreneurship training and business counselling. For a more detailed description of the objectives and rationale of EPF, detailed explanation how the programme works and the programme’s impact see OECD Good Practice Compendium.
In Lithuania teachers receive substantial support and training. In Lithuania, implementation guidelines and learning outcomes for entrepreneurship education are included in national curricula and methodological material is available for teachers. These guidelines and materials are the primary support that teachers receive (EACEA, 2012). In addition, Junior Achievement has prepared entrepreneurship textbooks and has trained approximately 3 000 teachers (out of 40 000 teachers). Relative to other EU and OECD countries, this is a high proportion. Moreover, the Entrepreneurship Action Plan of Lithuania for 2014–2020 includes measures to increase the competences of teachers, especially those of vocational education.