Diverse learning environments and methods are available for entrepreneurship studies in vocational education and training as well as in higher education institutions; however, they are not sufficiently utilised. Students in higher education felt that they had learned about entrepreneurship during their studies, while vocational students felt that they learned very little in terms of the information needed to function as an entrepreneur.
Between 2017 and 2018, the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) evaluated entrepreneurship in vocational education and training as well as in higher education institutions. The objective of the evaluation was to examine how entrepreneurship was taught, how the students felt about what they had learned and how the operational culture of the vocational education provider or higher education institution supported the learning of entrepreneurship. The teaching of entrepreneurship has not previously been nationally evaluated to this extent in vocational education and training or in higher education.
Students are interested in entrepreneurship, as one in ten students in vocational education and training plans to set up an enterprise within the next five years. Among students in higher education, 15% plan to set up an enterprise within the next five years. Working as an entrepreneur is an increasingly likely form of finding a livelihood in the future. In addition, working life is currently shifting toward a more entrepreneurial approach to working.
Students in vocational education and training do not feel they are learning sufficient entrepreneurial skills
Students in vocational education and training felt that they learned very few entrepreneurial skills: about half of the students responded that they learned little to no information needed to function as an entrepreneur. On the other hand, one third of the students who had not signed up for entrepreneurship studies felt that they had learned some or a great deal of information needed as an entrepreneur.
– Small solutions could improve the learning experience. The students’ experience of learning entrepreneurial skills could have been more positive if they had been told how the information learned outside entrepreneurship studies and workplace training is relevant for entrepreneurs, says Senior Advisor Juha Vettenniemi.
Students in higher education more eager to engage in entrepreneurial activities after entrepreneurship studies
Students in higher education felt that they learned some characteristics and attitudes required from entrepreneurs during their studies. The entrepreneurship studies also increased their interest towards pursuing entrepreneurial activities. At higher education institutions, fitting entrepreneurship studies in the degree programme within the given timeline for completing the degree posed a challenge.
– Educational institutions should develop methods to entice students interested in entrepreneurship and related studies to sign up for entrepreneurship studies, says Senior Advisor Mira Huusko.
Business cooperation and authentic experiences of entrepreneurs were considered the best learning tools
Students of both vocational education and training and higher education institutions felt that diverse teaching methods, business cooperation, hearing stories of entrepreneurs and authentic experiences of entrepreneurship were the best ways to learn about entrepreneurship. The students expressed criticism towards entrepreneurship studies implemented online.
However, there was little business cooperation in the entrepreneurship studies organised by providers of vocational education and training. The education and training providers had diverse learning environments and teaching methods for teaching entrepreneurship, but the entrepreneurship studies mostly consisted of exercises, and the teaching often consisted of only one teaching method at a time.
In higher education institutions, entrepreneurship studies were most often conducted as lectures, independent exercises and group work. There was little participation in learning through practical entrepreneurial activities. Students in higher education responded that they value entrepreneurial experiences such as entrepreneurial activities conducted as an exercise or in a team.
According to the students, the personnel had a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship and the operating culture of the educational and training institutions mostly supported learning about the entrepreneurial approach. However, the operating culture of vocational education and training also included elements that did not promote the learning of entrepreneurial methods.
– Learning about entrepreneurial ways of working was reduced if the students felt a lack of equality and fairness or if they were not able to advance in their studies according to their competencies, says Vettenniemi.
Increased communication and business cooperation recommended
The evaluation team recommends educational and training institutions to invest in communications, as the communication of entrepreneurship-related studies and events was insufficient. Entrepreneurship studies should be carried out in cooperation with entrepreneurs. In addition, teachers should encourage students to engage in learning through practical entrepreneurial activities.
The student questionnaire was directed at all students whose education and training providers and higher education institutions organise entrepreneurship studies. In addition, interviews with education and training providers, representatives of higher education institutions and students as well as regional discussion events were used as material for the evaluation. Entrepreneurship as a concept is defined widely in the evaluation, in other words, as both entrepreneurial activities and entrepreneurial ways of working.
The evaluation report:
Yrittämään oppii yrittämällä – summary. Kansallinen koulutuksen arviointikeskus.
The evaluation report will be published on Monday, 3 December, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Musiikkitalo, Helsinki.
For further information, please contact:
Senior Advisor (higher education) Mira Huusko, tel. +358 (0)29 533 5565, email@example.com
Senior Advisor (vocational education and training) Juha Vettenniemi, tel. +358 (0)29 533 5547, firstname.lastname@example.org
Evaluation Expert (vocational education and training) Raisa Hievanen, tel. +358 (0)29 533 5542, email@example.com
Director Harri Peltoniemi, tel. +358 (0)29 533 5532, firstname.lastname@example.org