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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.8 Development of entrepreneurship competence

Last update: 12 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 25/11/2020 - 10:11

On this page
  1. Policy Framework
  2. Formal learning
  3. Non-formal and informal learning
  4. Educators support in entrepreneurship education

Policy Framework

There is no formal strategy for entrepreneurship education in England, although a policy paper covering business enterprise was published under the Coalition Government (2010-2015), in which the Government recognised the need to engage with young people as part of the wider goal of  'encouraging people and giving them the skills to set up their own business'. The paper stated the need to give young people hands-on business experiences to make them view starting their own business a viable career option in later life. More recently, various moves have been made towards creating enabling environments for entrepreneurs.

The 2017 Building our Industrial Strategy highlighted the government’s aim to support the next generation of entrepreneurs and improve support for scale-ups. Responses to the preceding Green Paper supported the importance of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship to the successful delivery of the industrial strategy. In 2019 a new review was established with the aim of investigating obstacles and proposing solutions to support enterprising young people from all backgrounds, as part of the 2017 government’s Industrial Strategy. It also aims to increase diversity in the business community through targeted support to entrepreneurs from disadvantaged and lower income backgrounds.

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education published a guidance for UK higher education providers in 2018 that provides context and direction for the state of entrepreneurship education in the UK. 

Some resources for entrepreneurs are provided by the government. The Business Support Helpline provides free advice to start-ups. Designed for business support and guidance, 38 Growth Hubs are located in England. The Office for the Small Business Commissioner was also set up to help resolve payment disputes with larger businesses. Awards such as the Enterprising Britain Awards aim to raise the profile of entrepreneurship across the UK. 

CIPD, the main UK organisation for Human Resources professionals, gives a useful overview of UK approaches to giving young people hands-on business experience, with reference to wider, European-level policy frameworks, in its 2015 briefing paper entitled Encouraging enterprise in education.


Formal learning

Entrepreneurship education in compulsory education

Young Enterprise, the UK's leading enterprise education charity, defines entrepreneurship education (or enterprise education, as it is more commonly known in England) as:

the application of creative ideas to practical situations. It aims to raise awareness of the mind-set and skills required to respond to opportunities, needs and challenges such as problem solving, teamwork, communication, creativity and resilience. It can be applied across the curriculum, extending beyond business to a wide range of practical and social skills' (Outcomes map: Enterprise education and employability, page 3, Young Enterprise, 2015).

Enterprise education is not part of the National Curriculum, although schools may choose to include elements of it in their school curriculum. At ISCED 3 (GCSE and A level – descriptions of these qualifications is available in the Eurydice network’s description of national education systems), schools may offer pupils the opportunity to follow a qualification in business studies.

Schools may also include entrepreneurship in their non-statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) classes. The PSHE Association, which was set up in 2006 with government funding to help raise the quality of PSHE teaching, has produced a revised programme of study for PSHE for pupils in key stages 1 to 4 (ages 5- 16). Its programme of study suggests that in primary education (age 5-11), children should be taught about money and given a basic understanding of enterprise. In secondary school, (age 11-16), pupils should be taught: how to make informed choices and be enterprising and ambitious; about the economic and business environment; how personal finances choices can affect themselves and others; about the rights and responsibilities of consumers. The programme of study for PSHE was updated in January 2020 according to guidance from the Department for Education. From September 2020 this new curriculum is compulsory. 

Although there is no formal strategy for entrepreneurship education, elements of business enterprise policy filter into schools. Pupils are given the opportunity to participate in hands-on business experiences. They include, amongst others:

  • Tycoons in schools, a national enterprise challenge in schools. The competition allows students to start and run a business whilst at school or college, thereby allowing them to gain valuable hands-on experience of what is involved with running a business.
  • The National Enterprise Challenge, which gives schools the opportunity to set up and manage a business.
  • The Tenner Challenge, which is aimed at young people aged 11-19 who want to get a taste of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. It gives them a chance to think of a new business idea and make it happen, using real money to take calculated risks in the business field, make a profit – and make a difference.
  • MyBnk, which is an award-winning UK charity that teaches young people how to manage their money and set up their own enterprise.
  • The Fiver Challenge, which is aimed at five to 11- year-olds across the UK, giving participants £5 to set up mini businesses to create products or services they can then sell/deliver at a profit and engage with their local community.

In addition, Young Enterprise is a business and enterprise charity which helps young people learn about business and the world of work through a range of programmes. 

Entrepreneurship education in higher education

The driver for enterprise education within higher education is set out in the 2011 Government White Paper for Higher Education, Students at the Heart of the System. The Government wanted universities to look at how they could work with businesses to promote better teaching, employer sponsorship, and innovation, following its policy statement on business enterprise (see above). Universities' commitment to student entrepreneurship was praised in a 2011 report by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The need for enterprise education and entrepreneurship opportunities for students in higher education - including postgraduate research students - was highlighted in the 2012 Wilson Review of Business-University Collaboration commissioned as part of the 2011 White Paper.

QAA's guidance on entrepreneurship education shows that there is no single model that describes the delivery of enterprise and entrepreneurship across higher education providers in the UK. Delivery models include enterprise and entrepreneurship being:

  • managed by a central unit
  • embedded in the curriculum by subject specialist educators
  • embedded in the curriculum under another name such as 'professional studies' or 'personal marketing skills'
  • delivered through a careers service
  • led or supported through facilities such as incubators, boot camps and extra-curricular clubs and societies.

In 2018, QAA published a comprehensive guide for higher education providers on enterprise and entrepreneurship education intended to promote, enhance and inform on the area. The Teaching Excellent Framework (TEF) provides the opportunity for higher education institutions to recognise the value of high quality Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education and highlight the career benefits for students. 

In the context of extra-curricular activities, some institutions offer summer schools or events which are led by staff or students. Many actively support start-up activities and deliver mentoring support beyond graduation. Students can also gain practical experience through external bodies such as Enactus, an international not-for-profit organisation that works with leaders in business and education to develop socially responsible entrepreneurs. Shell Livewire, an online community that offers networking, advice and a chance to win monthly and annual 'grand ideas' awards, is another example of extra-curricular engagement in higher education.

Participation in extracurricular activities may in some cases be formally recognised and recorded, for example through reference to the personal development process (in which learners identify key areas of learning and development activity that will enable them to either acquire new or develop existing skills and attributes) and use of transcripts, as well as the Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR).

There are also stand-alone degree programmes (including master's degree programmes) in some institutions which may involve actual business start-up as an integral requirement.

The National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education supports entrepreneurship both in higher education and in its graduates.

HE entrepreneurship networks

The National Association of Colleges and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE) is a membership organisation for engaging students in enterprise, set up by students for students. It gives college and university students the opportunity to boost their skills, confidence and aspirations through supporting student-led enterprise societies, running inspiring events and advocating practical learning. The 2012 Wilson Review of Business-University Collaboration recommended that the NACUE should be supported by sponsors, universities and government in promoting entrepreneurship.

NACUE, the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Enterprise Educators UK have formed the Enterprise Alliance to ensure collaboration and reduced duplication in their activities at national and local level.

The role of business mentors is growing across the enterprise and entrepreneurial agenda of universities. Mentors are drawn from both alumni networks and the business community, normally without remuneration or position.

Non-formal and informal learning

Non-formal and informal education in support of young people’s wider learning and development lie at the heart of youth work. Youth work organisations, including local authorities, the third sector and uniformed organisations (for instance, the Scouts or Girlguides) often carry out activities which lead to the development of entrepreneurship competence.   

Educators support in entrepreneurship education

Enterprise education is not mentioned in the Teachers' Standards which underpin initial teacher training.

Responsibility for continuing professional development (CPD) is shared across a range of organisations, including: the Department for Education (DfE); the National College for Teaching and Leadership; the Teaching and Learning Academy; school governing bodies; and the individual teachers concerned.

Teachers have a professional duty to participate in CPD arrangements and schools themselves decide how much time to allocate to CPD based on their specific areas for development as set out in their school development plan (SDP). Each individual teacher’s development is planned for in the context of the SDP and monitored by the performance management system. Schools may choose to cover enterprise education as part of their CPD arrangements.

EBEA is a professional subject association for those interested in the teaching and study of economics, business and enterprise.

There are also a number of National Occupational Standards (NOS) which cover entrepreneurship and enterprise. NOS, which set out the standards of performance expected when carrying out functions in the workplace and specifications of the underpinning knowledge and understanding. Since 2015, these are no longer actively maintained, but remain publicly available.