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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.8 Development of entrepreneurship competence

Last update: 25 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 10/11/2020

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 longer a specific strategy for entrepreneurship education (EE) in Scotland. Scotland's approach to enterprise education was developed in the 2002 EE strategy Determined to Succeed: A Review of Enterprise in Education and implemented from 2003-2011. Entrepreneurship education has since been mainstreamed through the national curriculum framework known as the Curriculum for Excellence.

At a strategy level, EE is addressed in the Scottish Government's 2014 innovation strategy, 'Scotland Can Do – Becoming a World-Leading, Entrepreneurial and Innovative Nation’ and in the 2014 youth employment strategy, Developing the Young Workforce'.

Scotland Can Do is a framework for entrepreneurship and innovation, covering 2013-2020, and is relevant to all levels of education (ISCED 1-8). It reflects the importance given by the Scottish Government to entrepreneurship and innovation, the values that will inform work in this area, and future priorities for action.

CIPD, the main UK organisation for Human Resources professionals, gives a useful overview of UK approaches in this area, with reference to wider, European-level policy frameworks, in its 2015 briefing paper, Encouraging enterprise in education.

Formal learning

Entrepreneurship in schools

Within Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, enterprise is a cross-curricular theme, alongside citizenship, sustainable development, international education and creativity. The curriculum framework highlights that such themes need to be developed in a range of contexts. Learning relating to these themes is therefore built into the Experiences and Outcomes standards and expectations for learning and progression across the eight curriculum areas listed below.

  • expressive arts
  • languages and literacy
  • religious and moral education
  • social studies
  • mathematics and numeracy
  • sciences
  • technologies
  • health and wellbeing.

They are set out in linear development, describing learning progress through the levels. For example, in the Social Studies curriculum area, an aim relevant to enterprise is 'develop an understanding of concepts that stimulate enterprise and influence business'. The experiences and outcomes statements for the different levels are given in the table below.


Early level – In real-life settings and imaginary play, I explore how local shops and services provide us with what we need in our daily lives.


First level – I have developed an understanding of the importance of local organisations in providing for the needs of my local community. Second level – Through exploring ethical trading, I can understand how people’s basic needs are the same around the world, discussing why some societies are more able to meet these needs than others.


Third level – When participating in an enterprise activity, I can explore ethical issues relating to business practice and gain an understanding of how businesses help to satisfy needs. Fourth level – I can critically examine how some economic factors can influence individuals, businesses or communities.

Further information about enterprise education may be found in the 2016 Eurydice publication entitled Entrepreneurship Education at School in Europe.

Hands-on entrepreneurial experiences

Students are given the opportunity to participate in a range of hands-on business experiences, including those listed below:

  • 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 gives schools the opportunity to set up and manage a business.
  • The Tenner Challenge is aimed at young people aged 11-19 who want to get a taste of what it is like to be an entrepreneur. It gives them a chance to think of a new business idea and set it up, using real money to take calculated risks in the business field, making a profit and a difference.
  • MyBnk is an award-winning UK charity that teaches young people how to manage their money and set up their own enterprise.
  • The Fiver Challenge is for 5–11 year-olds across the UK. which gives participants £5 to set up mini businesses to create products or services they can then sell/deliver at a profit while engaging with their local community.

Entrepreneurship education in higher education

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 the context of extra-curricular activities, some institutions offer summer schools or events that 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 Report (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.

In 2012, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) produced guidance for UK higher education providers on enterprise and entrepreneurship education. It contains a broad framework that providers can use to articulate learning outcomes that can be applied across a wide range of delivery types. 

Cross-sector entrepreneurship education

Young Enterprise Scotland is a registered charity which works to inspire and equip young people to learn and succeed through enterprise. It works with students across Scotland with a variety of enterprise and entrepreneurship programmes. The programmes are aimed at young people aged 5-30 years across primary, secondary and tertiary education, as well as in prisons, secure and residential units and with community groups.

Non-formal and informal learning

Youth organisations and other bodies involved in providing opportunities for non-formal and informal learning may also enable young people to gain practical experience of business and to develop entrepreneurship competence. Little evidence of these experiences is available.

Educators support in entrepreneurship education

A new initiative, formally launched in September 2015 and which involves a number of partners led by Young Enterprise Scotland, is the Enterprising Schools project. Its primary focus is empowering educators through continuing professional learning, to build enterprising skills development into their schools and teaching. The stated objectives are to:

  • recognise schools for their work in this area and provide a platform for sharing good practice
  • encourage schools, from first level through to and beyond senior phase, to develop a whole-school approach to enterprise and entrepreneurial thinking
  • make resources available for teaching staff to support enterprise activity and encourage entrepreneurial thinking.

Education Scotland has also worked together with third sector partners in the 'Enterprising Schools' project (Big Idea, Co-operative Enterprise Trust Scotland, Curriculo Solutions, Social Enterprise Academy, and Young Enterprise Scotland) to produce member resources to support teachers to make learning more enterprising and entrepreneurial. The guidelines include Scottish case studies to illustrate the positive impact of the project, from developing young people's entrepreneurial skills, confidence and self-esteem, as well as providing participants with numerous opportunities to develop these skills across the curriculum.

The Economics, Business and Enterprise Association (EBEA) is the professional subject organisation for teachers of economics, business and enterprise.