THOUGHTS ON ENTERPRISE EDUCATION IN WALES
As many studies have shown, one of the most important factors in developing a more entrepreneurial economy is the integration of enterprise into the curriculum of schools, colleges and universities.
One of the best examples of how this has worked well internationally is to be found in Denmark where, during the last decade, the Danish government has developed a range of initiatives to strengthen entrepreneurship education across the country.
As a result, entrepreneurship is in the process of being fully integrated into teaching in the Danish education system with positive results in a number of areas.
For example, pupils who have participated in entrepreneurship education in Denmark have higher ambitions for jobs and education than non-participants, and entrepreneurship education has a positive effect on pupils’ intentions to start up their own business.
In addition, more pupils are leaders and initiators of spare time activities after they have received entrepreneurship education. It also helps pupils to relate better to school and education i.e. pupils enjoy being at school, feel connected to their classmates and supported by their teachers.
Policymakers in Denmark have also now established a more coherent policy towards entrepreneurship education through the establishment of a ‘Strategy for Education and Training in Entrepreneurship’.
This has ensured strategic direction and support for entrepreneurship training at all educational levels and is the first time that there has been a coherent national approach in funding and supporting entrepreneurship within the educational system.
As a result, it has provided an overall strategic approach to enterprise education, with the Danish government setting objectives to ensure that enterprise education is integrated fully into Denmark’s education system.
There is also collaboration across the different parts of Danish Government, with the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Science, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs all cooperating in the implementation of the strategy.
Most importantly, rather than having separate actors working in different parts of the enterprise education field in Denmark, all activities will be brought together under a single organisation, namely the Foundation for Entrepreneurship.
This has created a player of sufficient size to drive development forward, build up knowledge and create continuity between the work done at every level of the education system.
In Wales, the primary vehicle for the development of enterprise education is YES (the Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy), which is managed in-house within the Welsh Government.
To date, it has done a good job of promoting enterprise within the educational system. However, it is recognised that there remains a lack of integration into the curriculum at primary, secondary and tertiary levels and, more critically, there is a disconnect between YES and other programmes.
In contrast, the Foundation for Entrepreneurship has the scale and independence, as a standalone body, to strengthen Denmark´s competitiveness by stimulating interest in entrepreneurship and becoming the national knowledge centre in this area. As a result, it has created a coherent national commitment to education and training in entrepreneurship that is making a real difference in Denmark.
A critical part of creating a vibrant entrepreneurial climate in any economy is to have a strong and cohesive enterprise education system that goes from primary school to universities and beyond.
Whilst, the Welsh Government has established a benchmark for enterprise education in Wales through the YES project, more could be done to create more enterprising students in schools, colleges and universities.
Given this, Welsh policymakers may wish to consider whether a new independent foundation would be able to better co-ordinate enterprise education more effectively across Wales. Certainly, it could have a bigger impact on the entrepreneurial potential of our young people and, as a result, the competitiveness of the Welsh economy in years to come.