Milena Stoycheva, CEO of JA Bulgaria
Over the last 9 months, close to 600 girls aged between 12 and 18 have taken part in 20 workshops dedicated to digital and entrepreneurial skills. The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and a consortium of Junior Achievement offices, composed of JA Bulgaria, JA Greece, JA Lithuania, JA Romania, JA Serbia and JA Europe, together with our partner Apps for Good, teamed up to deliver trainings to equip young girls with the entrepreneurial and digital skills essential for their future working lives and support the EU’s Digital Education Action Plan.
While digital and entrepreneurial skills are widely sought after by businesses across Europe, the European Commission’s Digital Entrepreneurship Monitor indicates that the majority of European countries are relatively low in terms of digital entrepreneurial culture, particularly those in the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe regions. More worryingly, the gap widens further as the gender of workers is considered: there are four times more men than women in Europe with ICT-related studies and the share of men working in the digital sector is three times greater than the share of women.
The EIT, together with the JA consortium, aimed to support young girls to acquire entrepreneurial and digital skills and competences, through a “blended learning experience”: our bet was to mix our entrepreneurship education approach and tools with technology education. From our experience at JA, we know that entrepreneurship education is a highly effective way for students to learn as it provides them with the opportunity to learning by doing, on a concrete issue. For this project, the challenge was to come up with solutions for a market need in the form of a digital application.
The evaluation conducted at the end of the project shows the great success of the approach! According to the feedback gathered amongst the young girls, we know that most of the students had a positive and successful experience. In line with the objectives set for the project, students have developed their interest in becoming entrepreneurs (92%) and/or work in the technology sector (87%), which they now better understand. The data also shows that the workshops boosted their self-confidence as they now felt empowered to achieve new goals. Respondents also confirm that they developed skills such as teamwork and communications (94%), which are two highly sought-after skills by today’s employers.
We are very thankful for the opportunity to pilot such a project and look forward to further developing our blended learning experiences to help young Europeans be ready for the future.
Discover here what our inspired participants think about their experience: youtube.com/EITDigital
Emma Kiraly, Project Manager, Entrepreneurial Skills Pass
On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, one can only notice that the gender gap between boys and girls completing studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is still wide: there are twice as many male graduates in STEM as there are female graduates (see this report from the European Commission from 2019).
Julie Linn Teigland, EY EMEIA Area Managing Partner and EY Global Leader – Women. Fast forward. Member of the JA Europe Board
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has the ambition of building a Europe that is fit for the digital age. I am not only supportive of this ambition, I believe that to make it a reality, we need European talent that is fit for the digital age.
Minna Melleri, EE-Hub Director
While more and more students across Europe have a hands-on experience while at school, many still do not have the opportunity. Headmasters and principals play a key role in the uptake and development of entrepreneurship education within their schools and the broader education systems. Recent research from Finland tells us what tools and methodologies make a difference.
Caroline Jenner, CEO JA Europe
There are few people who have done as much to raise the profile of Vocational Education and Training (VET) as Marianne Thyssen, outgoing EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility. It was she who in 2014 launched the idea of a European Vocational Skills Week to heighten awareness of the value of VET and stimulate collaboration between stakeholders. Her mantra in speech after speech was that VET should not only be an equal choice, but a first choice. She is right.