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Young people with entrepreneurial experience are now better off entering job market thanks to new certification scheme

Brussels, Belgium, 24 July 2014

Obtaining a new Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP) proves that a student has strong entrepreneurial skills and business acumen. A unique international qualification is launched today aiming to give students access to further opportunities and facilitate their transition from education to entrepreneurship or employment. The Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP) runs in 26 countries* and certifies students (aged 15-19) who have had a practical entrepreneurship experience and have gained the necessary knowledge, skills and competences to start a business or be successfully employed.


Students involved in the ESP benefit from a practical entrepreneurial experience; they learn to turn ideas into real business plans, develop entrepreneurial and financial literacy skills, meet and interact with experienced people from the business sector. ESP requires the completion of a mini-company experience (1 school year), a self-assessment tool (pre/mid/post-test) and an online examination of business, economic and financial knowledge. Giving students a standardized form of recognition of their entrepreneurial skills and competences provides them with a competitive advantage upon entering the job market.

Large employers have also welcomed the certification hoping that it will help them select talented young self-starters with basic business skills. “The certification would demonstrate to an employer that a young person has a great competitive advantage over other applicants, because they have been able to develop important skills through the ESP program. Essential business skills, such as taking ideas and turning them into action, working in teams, presenting concepts and convincing an audience, as well as managing the economic side of an enterprise, are priceless attributes to have within a corporate environment,” said Rebecca Nicholson, Head of EMEA Employee Communications & CSR at SAP

Entrepreneurship education has been high on the European Commission’s agenda for the last few years: “Investing in entrepreneurship education is one of the highest return investments Europe can make…Whether or not they go on to found businesses or social enterprises, young people who benefit from entrepreneurial learning develop business knowledge and essential skills and attitudes including creativity, initiative, tenacity, teamwork, understanding of risk and a sense of responsibility.” [Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, European Commission]. The European Commission has said that every young person should have a practical entrepreneurial experience before they leave school.

Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise (JA-YE) Europe, Europe’s largest provider of entrepreneurship education programmes, joined forces with the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (KWO), CSR Europe and Danish Foundation For Entrepreneurship-Young Enterprise (FFE-YE) to respond to this need and take a step further. The project is co-funded by the European Commission. The ESP was launched during the JA-YE Europe Company of the Year Competition, in Tallinn, Estonia.

“It is imperative to raise young people’s awareness of their entrepreneurial potential while they are still in school. The ESP challenges them in new ways and builds confidence. .Private sector partners seeking enterprising new recruits see the ESP as a great addition to any young person’s skills portfolio. It’s a forward-looking initiative aimed at boosting the long-term impact of Europe’s entrepreneurship education efforts,” said Caroline Jenner, CEO JA-YE Europe.

The Entrepreneurial Skills Pass ran as pilot programme during the school year 2013-2014 with almost 2,000 students from 15 countries participating.


*(Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom)

Watch the ESP video here

Notes to Editors

“JA-YE Europe does an excellent job in preparing the upcoming generations. Through their Company Programme at secondary level they train the students in certain skills that we consider an important asset for their future. ESP has a great potential and in the long run it can become a strategic tool and a CV booster for those students who are looking to get their first job.” Beatriz Morilla, Head of Citizenship EMEA at Barclays

“Microsoft wants to drive forward the awareness and implementation of the ESP to ensure that entrepreneurship competencies are recognised on the European labour market. We believe that it is a unique qualification that will help students prove that they have had a real entrepreneurship experience and have the necessary knowledge, skills and competences to start a business or be successfully employed.”

“Youth will shape the future economic and innovation landscape in Europe. It is critical that big companies like Microsoft create partnership solutions, like the ESP, with educators, business and the non-profit sector that will support a quality transition for youth into jobs that will in the long-term ensure wider economic success and an innovation lifeline for the continent by supporting the next generation.” Sylvie Laffarge, Director EU Institutional Relations and Citizenship at Microsoft Europe

“We need to bridge the gaps between employers, education and government by producing a consensus view of what is meant by non-cognitive employability skills. Resilience, problem-solving, team-work, self-awareness, determination, communication, willingness to learn, confidence as well as literacy, numeracy and ICT – essentially 21st Century skills are what young people need when leaving education and entering the world of work. The ESP would enable HR people to see at a glance that a young person is accredited with possessing these skills.” Alison Braybrooks, UBS Community Affairs Team

For more information, visit http://entrepreneurialskillspass.eu/

The ESP fact sheet can be accessed here

About Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise Europe

JA-YE Europe is Europe’s largest provider of entrepreneurship education programmes, reaching 3.2 million students in 39 countries in 2013. Funded by businesses, institutions, foundations and individuals, JA-YE brings the public and private sectors together to provide young people in primary and secondary schools and early university with experiences that promote the skills, understanding and perspective that they will need to succeed in a global economy. The JA-YE Company Programme is recognised by the European Commission Enterprise Directorate General as a ‘Best Practice in Entrepreneurship Education’. JA-YE Europe is the European Regional Operating Center for JA Worldwide®

About CSR Europe

CSR Europe is the leading European business network for Corporate Social Responsibility. Through its network of around 70 corporate members and 37 National CSR organizations, it gathers over 5,000 companies and acts as a platform for those businesses looking to enhance sustainable growth and positively contribute to society. In its mission to bring the CSR agenda forward, CSR Europe goes beyond European borders and cooperates with CSR organisations in other regions across the world.

About Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ)

WKÖ represents the interests of more than 400,000 Austrian member companies. As the voice of Austrian business, WKÖ is committed to forward-looking policies (e.g. tax relief, cutting red tape, subsidies); boost the economy through comprehensive services on topics that goes from labour laws to customs information; support Austrian companies with expert knowledge and educational facilities. In alignment with the Entrepreneurship Action Plan 2020, WKÖ’s Department for Educational Policy’s number one demand is concerned with a broad implementation of entrepreneurship education throughout Austria’s training system.

About Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship – Young Enterprise (FFE-YE)

FFE-YE is the central national knowledge center and focal point for the development of entrepreneurship teaching at all educational levels in Denmark. Our objective is ensure that the ability to be innovative becomes a fundamental element in all education levels, from primary school to PhD. FFE-YE allocates funding for the development and further development of education with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship at all levels of the educational system. The Foundation also develops and publishes its own educational materials, advises on the implementation of entrepreneurship in teaching and facilitates the cooperation and networking about entrepreneurship education.

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