Training the Entrepreneurs of the Future

Training the Entrepreneurs of the Future

An interview with Caroline Jenner, CEO, JA Europe

Caroline Jenner is on a mission to make entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills training an integral part of a student’s education. As CEO of Junior Achievement Europe (JA), Jenner is working closely with schools, businesses and other stakeholders and partners to develop a programme that will ultimately facilitate the match between demand and supply in the labour market.

The result is the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP). The ESP is an internationally recognised qualification that students earn after going through a rigorous process of starting and running their own mini companies. Backed by corporate giants including Microsoft and Barclays, the ESP helps students to start and run their own mini companies, giving them the practical skills and knowledge of entrepreneurship that’s lacking in traditional education.

The statistics to date are compelling:

  • Approximately 250,000 students participate in mini-companies across 39 countries within the JA network each year.
  • The ESP is in its first full rollout in 18 countries.
  • 3,000 students from academic and vocational schools have already earned their ESP.

The long-term objective of the ESP is to develop the programme in three dimensions by:

  • expanding the number of countries adopting the ESP
  • increasing the total number students earning their ESP; and
  • getting more stakeholder organisations to endorse the programme, which is where Drop’pin comes in.

Caroline Jenner talks to us about the need for entrepreneurial skills development and the importance of partnership.

Why did you decide to launch the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass?

The Europe 2020 strategy sets targets in terms of entrepreneurship education and aims to provide young people across Europe with the skills and competencies employers are looking for as well as to raise students’ awareness of their entrepreneurial potential while they are still at school. The ESP is one of the ways in which JA Europe is contributing to that strategy.

VET students have specialised technical skills and, through their mini company, they have added entrepreneurial acumen that is so important for their future careers. We felt that students needed something that would truly communicate to others what they ‘know how to do’. The Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP) does that very well, and, what’s more, it is an international certification. It an extra leg up as they move into entrepreneurship and/or employment at a time when they need as many references as possible.

Beyond the benefits to students, the ESP has value for the entrepreneurship education ecosystem. We can see how much progress is being made across a spectrum of entrepreneurial competencies from the beginning of the year to the end. We can check to see key concepts are understood. The ESP will play a role in improving the consistency and quality of mini-company experiences across Europe, across education systems.

What organisations have you worked with in developing the Skills Pass?

The ESP is a project co-funded by the European Commission. The project began as a collaboration between the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO) and the JA network. It expanded to include the European Business Network for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR Europe) and a number of international organisations and companies such as EUROCHAMBRES and Barclays, Citi, HP, Hyundai, Intel, Microsoft, MetLife Foundation, SAP, UBS or VISA, with long track records in supporting entrepreneurship education.

Why did you choose to partner with Drop’pin for the ESP?

Drop’pin came along at the right time with the right kind of solution. Youth focused, safe, user-friendly and attractive it provides a fantastic go-to-place for ESP students looking for further opportunities. Drop’pin will also be an important channel to promote ESP, by allowing more companies and institutions to learn about the programme.

What outcomes do you hope to achieve for organisations?

The ESP represents a valuable complement to standard academic qualifications. It certifies that a young person has the required knowledge, competences and skills, facilitating the recruitment and training process.

How can organisations get involved in the programme?

It is very easy for organisations and companies to endorse the ESP. Three options are available: 1) to provide volunteers at the local level in any country, 2) to sponsor a student, 3) to open a door to further opportunities. Or all three!

By engaging their human capital, organisations can mentor ESP students in schools, share their expertise through on-site or online presentations or join the jury of a competition. Another way to become involved is to support ESP participants with individual donations by sponsoring the exam fee. Last but not least, organisations can contribute to the ESP by offering successful ESP candidates’ further opportunities in the form of further training, work experience, or start-up support.

More information about how to endorse the ESP is available on the website.